Netcare praised for stance on homophobia
LGBTI groups have welcomed the suspension of a paramedic for his homophobic remarks insinuating that the devastating Knysna fires were a result of God’s wrath.
The Netcare 9111 paramedic had posted a Facebook remark saying the fires, which have left thousands destitute, were the work of God because gay couples got married at the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival, hosted in the town.
In his post, the Facebook user, by the name of Bossie Boshoff, had also slated the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community, saying: “It was just after the elections of the Dutch Reformed Church where they approved homosexual marriage… God was taunted with it. They should not cry about the fires now. God won’t allow himself to be made a fool of.”
By yesterday, the raging fires in the Eden District area had claimed seven lives, the latest being that of a mother of a toddler who died at Welbedacht on Wednesday. “This number includes one firefighter,” according to the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre.
The region has been declared a disaster area following the devastating fires that tore through the town since Wednesday.
Organisers of the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival hosted in Knysna earlier this year said they were saddened by the paramedic’s utterances.
“It is sad that people in this day and age still believe in hatred and bigotry to such an extent that they laugh with excitement when a natural disaster like this occurs and a whole town is impacted and brought to the brink of total destruction,” said Pink Loerie chairperson Johann van Niekerk.
“As an LGBTQ+ Foundation, we congratulate Netcare 911 for their swift reaction to the employee’s inappropriate social media post this week,” he said. “Society is built up of many groups with different views. But it is the way that they treat each other, and even more so how they in public accommodate each other’s point of views with respect and dignity, that dictates their relationship.
“South Africa has come far in its views… but situations like these show we sometimes still have a long road ahead in our communities to achieve acceptance,” said Van Niekerk.
Netcare 911 said the paramedic had been suspended pending the holding of a disciplinary hearing scheduled for this week. “We completely distance ourselves from the paramedic’s unacceptable comments. We have a firm, zerotolerance stance towards discrimination of any kind,” said managing director Craig Grindell.