The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has instructed a Limpopo doctor who separated patients according to race to make a public apology‚ do community service and participate in anti-racism advocacy workshops.
The SAHRC concluded its investigation into a complaint received about Dr Jimmy van den Berg‚ a general practitioner in Mokopane‚ the commission said on Thursday.
The commission received several complaints that Van den Berg segregated patients into different waiting areas‚ consultation rooms‚ and reception areas.
“It was further alleged that staff had segregated toilets and kitchens and could not use the same kitchen utensils. The complainants told the SAHRC that black patients were billed more than white patients for the same medical services. The Commission conducted several inspections at the medical rooms and confirmed that patients and staff were being segregated on the basis of race‚” the commission said.
Van den Berg agreed to co-operate with the commission and indicated his willingness to resolve the matter expeditiously and amicably.
“Dr Van den Berg is to provide the commission with a written undertaking to immediately desist from segregating patients and staff according to race and to refrain from any similar actions‚ words or attitudes‚ which violate Chapter 2 of the Constitution in the future‚” the SAHRC said.
The commission also sought a written public apology for this violation of the rights to equality of his patients and staff. Van den Berg and his staff are further required to participate in anti-racism advocacy workshops facilitated by the SAHRC within three months of signing the conciliation agreement.
The SAHRC required additional undertakings that Van den Berg provide 48 hours of free medical service at a medical facility serving a disadvantaged community‚ and that he covers the cost of one counselling session for each member of his staff adversely affected by the segregation at his medical practice.
The commission said it would impose harsher penalties through the courts should the terms of the agreement not be honoured.
A conciliation agreement on this case will be signed on Friday morning.