navyCape Times reports that the SA Navy has successfully challenged a Limpopo High Court decision declaring its recruitment age requirement invalid. This was after the Tebeila Institute, which took on the Navy, could not prove its case at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

The policy stipulates age requirements for admission to the navy’s recruitment programme. Under the military skills development system (MSDS), applicants who would serve in a combat role are required to be between 18 and 22 years of age. Tebeila challenged the age requirement. However, the Navy contended in its papers that the age requirement did not constitute unfair discrimination. In his judgement, SCA Judge David Unterhalter said: “The policy, though expressed in sometimes arcane language, explains that the defence force requires young, fit and healthy members who are able to adapt to change. The defence force runs the risk of rank-age imbalance. The essential difficulty is that the age profile of members of the defence force, within and between the different ranks, exceeds international norms. This can hamper the readiness and capability of the defence force. It can also give rise to the difficulty that older soldiers holding more junior ranks are commanded by younger soldiers holding more senior ranks. Put simply, too many members of the defence force within the ranks, and especially within the junior ranks, are, on average, too old. Recruitment policy must therefore seek to redress this imbalance.” The judge set aside the order made by the Limpopo High Court. A Tebeila Institute spokesperson said that after their legal team had studied the judgment, they would possibly take the matter to the Constitutional Court.


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