Lebeya v Matlala and Others (JR2330/16) [2019] ZALCJHB 155 (14 June 2019)

/ / 2019, Civil Procedure, News


The factual background from which this decision arises concerns a dismissal on the grounds of misconduct.  Lonmin Platinum Mine (“the Employer”) dismissed Doctor Lebeya (“the Employee”) following a disciplinary enquiry in which he was found guilty of dishonest.   At the heart of the misconduct was two fraudulent travel claims submitted by the Employee.  

The Employee being dissatisfied with the Employer’s findings subsequently referred an unfair dismissal dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).    

The Commissioner had careful consideration to the Travel Policy and Code of Business Ethics of the Employer.  These rules and policies established and created rules of ethical conduct when an employee claimed travel expenses when travelling in the employee’s own vehicle.    

The Commissioner considered Item 7 of Schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act (the LRA) by asking the following questions:  
  • Did the employee transgress a workplace rule?
  • Was the employee aware of the rule?
  • Was the employee aware of the consequences of contravening the rule?
  • Did the employer apply the rule consistently?

It further transpired (after viewing security footage) that the Employee had travelled in a colleague’s car, and was thus not entitled to claim for travelling expenses.  

Accordingly, Commissioner Lazarus Matlala found that the dismissal was procedurally and substantively fair.

However, the Employee decided to approach the Labour Court to review and set aside the arbitration award.


On scrutiny of the arbitration award made by Commissioner Lazarus Matlala, the Labour Court confirmed that the arbitrator’s award was not “irrational, or that the arbitrator exceeded his powers”.  

The Labour Court had consideration to the Constitutional Court decision of Sidumo & another v Rustenburg Platinum Mines & others [2007] 12 BLLR 1097 (CC) which explored the provision of Section 145(2) of the LRA and in light of the content thereof, the Commissioner’s conduct was not tantamount to a gross irregularity or had exceeded his powers.  


The Application was accordingly dismissed.


This judgement highlights that employers who carefully follow the stipulations of the LRA will not be unjustifiably punished. The LRA has numerous procedural and substantive fairness which an employer must be cognisant of when embarking on a dismissal. The judgment further demonstrates that the CCMA is a vital cog in the labour law legislative framework and plays a vital role in ensuring the integrity of labour law from a grassroots level.

Written by John Mackechnie and supervised by Omphile Boikanyo

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