Let’s face it, we can’t all embody the likes of Chad le Clos and Tatjana Schoenmaker in the water, and swimming isn’t everyone’s strong suit. Johannes Dzumba took this notion one step further after fighting against the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF) swimming requirements for the past 15 years.
In 2006, Dzumba applied to be enrolled in the Physical Training Instructor’s course (PTI Course) offered by the SANDF. To qualify for this course, members are required to undergo a one-week pre-selection course, and to complete this course, all attendees must be able to complete a 25-meter freestyle swim. Those members who are successful in the one-week pre-selection course qualify for the nine-week PTI Course.
In his judgment, Judge AJ Cochrane said “The Applicant did not pass the one-week pre-selection course due to being unable to complete the swimming component of the course.”
Judge Cochrane went on to say that SANDF also offers what is known as the Basic Water Orientation course, a course specifically aimed at assisting members with no previous swimming experience who wish to qualify for the PTI course.
Dzumba attended this course but failed it, and then attended the one-week PTI pre-selection course for a second time, which he failed once again “due to being unable to swim.”
After failing the Basic Water Orientation course, Dzumba asked the military to evaluate the entry requirements as he considered the swim prerequisite an unfair and invalid assessment practice. He claimed that it was “biased, groundless and oppressive.”
He also submitted that the 25-meter freestyle swim entry requirement as well as the lifeguard qualification be removed.
Judge Cochrane said the requirement does not amount to unfair discrimination, and the application was dismissed with costs.