Friday, August 03, 2007

Rasta warders to take case to High Court

Five prison warders were dismissed from their jobs for refusing to cut off their Rastafarian dreadlocks, their union said Friday.

The five, employed at the Pollsmoor prison outside Cape Town, were disciplined for contravening the Department of Correctional Services' dress code, said Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union spokesperson Benzi Soko.

"The dress code cannot supersede the constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion," said Soko, adding the matter would be pursued to the highest level necessary.

"Our lawyers are preparing an urgent application to the Cape High Court for the members' immediate reinstatement."

He said the five were barred from the workplace, but were receiving their full salaries pending the outcome of an internal appeal process.

The department confirmed the dismissals, saying the five "defiantly ignored warnings to comply" with its dress code.

"The department of correctional cervices fully respects the legal rights of every official but cannot compromise discipline nor appreciate the flouting of its policies and regulations," it said in a statement. - Sapa-AFP

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