South African rulings uphold rights of HIV+ employees

Many thanks to Godfrey Kangaude, LL.M. (UFS), LL.M. (UCLA), now an LL.D. candidate with the University of Pretoria and Executive Director of Nyale Institute for Sexual and Reproductive Health Governance in Malawi, for composing and/or editing summaries of 54 recent African court decisions for Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts, published in 2017 by Pretoria University Law Press (PULP).  All three volumes in the series are freely available in print or electronic form.

Two of the court decisions summarized in Legal Grounds III clearly upheld the rights of HIV-positive persons against discrimination, including  unjust dismissal, and exclusion from certain job opportunities.

Gary Shane Allpass v Mooikloof Estates (Pty) Ltd. [2011], Case No. JS178/09, a Labour Court of South Africa upheld the rights to equality and non-discrimination of HIV-positive persons in the workplace.  The Court ruled that a horse-riding instructor’s dismissal from employment for HIV-positivity was automatically unfair in terms of Section 187(1)(f) of the Labour Relations Act, 66 of 1995, because the reason for dismissal was his  HIV status, and was not justifiable on any other ground.   Summary for Legal Grounds III.   Decision online.

Dwenga and Others v Surgeon-General of the South African Military Health Services and Others [2014] ZAGPPHC 727, Case No. 40844/2013, the High Court at North Gauteng  reinforced an earlier ruling against discrimination toward HIV+ individuals employed by the military.  The South African National Defence Force had violated its own policies, and was unable to provide any evidence to suggest that the requisite health required for the positions sought by the Applicants could not be achieved by a person infected with HIV.  Summary for Legal Grounds III.    Decision online.

As Godfrey Kangaude emphasized regarding the Dwenga case: “Discriminatory attitudes and practices against persons with HIV are still prevalent in our societies, despite the progress that many countries have made in terms of putting in place public policies to curb these forms of discrimination. Having legislation in place or even a court decision is sometimes not enough incentive, even for public institutions such as the army, to end discriminatory practices. The Court commented that public institutions should be exemplary in complying with constitutional norms and standards, such as respect and protection of the rights of persons living with HIV. (Legal Grounds III, page 188)

Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts (Pretoria University Law Press (PULP), 2017) covers decisions from 2008 to 2016.   228 pages, 54 case summaries, onlineFlyer with Table of Contents.

Legal Grounds I and Legal Grounds II (Center for Reproductive Rights, 2005 and 2010) are online here.
Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at   For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here.     TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.

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