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'Racist' DOC faces probe

By Getrude Makhafola | Sep 10, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

A PROBE into medical practitioner HH Schmitz's racist treatment of black patients at his surgery is being launched, the Health Professions Council of South Africa said yesterday.

HPSA said the investigation would be conducted with the South African Human Rights Commission and that the HPCSA is now gathering information from witnesses.

The two organisations would soon visit the surgery as part of the investigation.

But the investigation comes months after a Sowetan exposé.

In January this year Sowetan reported on how black and white patients at Schmitz's surgery in Ventersdorp, North West, used separate entrances and how white patients received preferential treatment over their black counterparts.

One of his patients, Teko Gadinabokao, said it was no use launching an investigations now because the "physical barriers of segregation" had long since been done away with.

"Schmitz moved quickly to make changes at the surgery. Everyone uses one entrance now. I think the investigation is too late and a waste of time," Gadinabokao said.

Asked why launching an investigation took so long, HPCSA spokesperson Bertha Peters-Scheepers said there were "long processes" to be followed before an investigation could be launched.

"First, information has to be gathered and the person informed.

"We give them 40 days to respond to the allegations and sometimes they take longer than that to respond," Peters-Scheepers said.

She said the doctor's response also goes though a committee that decides whether it warrants an investigation or not.

Peters-Scheepers said sometimes experts had to be called in and complaints sometimes took the legal route.

"It is a long process that can sometimes take up to two years before an actual investigation takes place," Peters-Scheepers said.

A case of unprofessional conduct would be investigated against Schmitz.


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