Limpopo doctor ordered to stop segregating patients by race

An agreement was signed between the SAHRC, Dr vd Berg and Limpopo Department of Health. Photo: @EileenIzette

An agreement was signed between the SAHRC, Dr vd Berg and Limpopo Department of Health. Photo: @EileenIzette

The South African Human Rights Commission recently concluded their investigation into racially segregated doctor’s rooms in Mokopane, Limpopo.

Several complaints to the Limpopo Commission’s Provincial Office regarding a medical practice owned by Dr Jimmy van den Berg, a general practitioner in Mokopane, Limpopo, has prompted an investigation by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

Black and white patients at Dr Jimmy van den Berg’s practice were allegedly segregated into different waiting areas, consultation rooms and reception areas, Bosveld Review reports.

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In a statement released by the Human Right’s Commission, complainants received 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.

“Dr Van den Berg agreed to cooperate with the Commission and indicated his willingness to resolve the matter expeditiously and amicably,” the statement read.

He agreed to the following terms:

He will 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.

He will provide a written public apology for this violation of the rights to equality of his patients and staff. 

He 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. 

He will also provide 48 hours of free medical service at a medical facility serving a disadvantaged community and will cover the cost of one counselling session for each member of his staff adversely affected by the segregation at his medical practice.

“The Commission has indicated its intention to pursue harsher penalties through the courts should the terms of the agreement not be honoured. Complaints related to inequality on the grounds of race comprise the largest amount of equality matters dealt with by the SAHRC.

“Racism and inequality on the grounds of race remain serious concerns for the Commission: 505 of the 749 equality cases dealt with by the Commission in 2016/7 involved discrimination based on race,” the statement concluded.

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