Court dismisses urgent application by ‘former’ Numsa Deputy President

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The Gauteng Division of the High Court has dismissed an urgent court application by the former deputy president of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), Ruth Ntlokotse, to declare her expulsion from the union unlawful and invalid.

Ntlokotse, who is currently president of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), approached the court, claiming her expulsion from the union in July was unfair and unconstitutional and that she could lose her position at Saftu.

The matter came before Magistrate Maier Frawley, who ruled that the case was not urgent and should go through the normal court processes.

Ruth Ntlokotse is fighting to stay at the helm of the trade union federation Saftu Numsa, president and also a member of Numsa, as she believes the courts are the main recourse that can reverse Numsa’s decision to expel her.

She approached the Gauteng High Court on an urgent basis in a matter that the federation says would have given clarity on her position within the leadership of the SAFTU.

Saftu Spokesperson Trevor Shaku, “The implications of the expulsion is that because the constitution of Saftu does not permit anyone, not a member of an affiliate to become president, the expulsion will have direct implications on her continuing as president of the federation.”

The NEC deliberated on this, and in that, a resolution emerged that they are going to wait for the court’s decision on whether it’s affirming the expulsion, then the NEC will then implement the court’s decision, and if dismissed, therefore, she will continue being the president.”

Ntlokotse was found guilty by Numsa in May on three counts of misconduct, including gross insubordination for failing to return work valuables, violating the principle of democratic centralism, and undermining organisational discipline.

She was also charged with allegedly sowing dissent and division in the union, which Numsa believes was well within its right to expel her.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi Majola says, “Ruth rushed to the high court in an attempt to get her expulsion set aside on an urgent basis, but unfortunately for her, the court dismissed her application on the basis of urgency with costs. Numsa is once again vindicated by the court. We welcome this decision. We view the urgent application by the former member of Numsa as frivolous. We view it as a wasteful expenditure of Numsa membership money.”

Saftu held a National Executive Committee meeting this week, which saw some unions walk out as they refused to be addressed by Ntlokotse, whom they say is no longer a member of Numsa and should, therefore, relinquish her position as president of Saftu.

One of them is the Municipal and Allied Trade Union of South Africa (MATUSA), which wants Ntokotse to step aside while the courts look into her matter.

Matusa General Secretary Kurt Ziervogel says, “The NEC tells us no the matter is subjudice, etc. We cannot want to wait for the court to tell us when and when not to implement our constitution, and that cannot be. There is a deputy president that can take over the running of the federation.”

Saftu says it will seek legal advice on the matter on how to move forward as the federation was also cited as a respondent but says Ntlokotse remains their president.