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Court rules man who called colleague ‘swart man’ was being racist

Meyer Bester, who worked at the Rustenburg Platinum Mine, was charged with making racial remarks in 2013 and was subsequently dismissed.

Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The Constitutional Court has ruled that a man who referred to his colleague as a “swart man” was being racist and derogatory.

Meyer Bester, who worked at the Rustenburg Platinum Mine, was charged with making racial remarks in 2013 and was subsequently dismissed.

He stormed into a meeting and pointed his finger at a colleague, calling him a "swart man" and saying he needed to move his car.

The CCMA ruled in Bester's favour saying his dismissal was unfair, however, the mining company approached the Labour Court which found that the words, within the context of the case, were, in fact, derogatory and racist.

On Thursday, the highest court in the land upheld that ruling, saying Bester showed no remorse and agreeing the appropriate sanction was dismissal.

The Institute of Race Relations' Michael Morris said: “The courts intend to send a very clear signal that gratuitously racist language is not to be tolerated and of course the past will always be a huge contention.”

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