Sur­geon chal­lenged over ‘coolie’ men­tal­ity slur

Sex­ual in­nu­en­dos, blas­phemy claims also probed


ADURBAN sur­geon has been hauled be­fore the Health Pro­fes­sions Coun­cil of South Africa (HPCSA) after he al­legedly said In­di­ans had a “coolie” men­tal­ity and had not evolved from the cane-fields.

Pro­fes­sor Anunathan Reddi is also ac­cused of us­ing the k-word, speak­ing with sex­ual in­nu­en­dos, blas­phemy and telling a col­league he had bad body odour.

Reddi, who headed the car­dio-tho­racic surgery de­part­ment at Inkosi Al­bert Luthuli Cen­tral Hospi­tal, al­legedly said the only de­vel­op­ment among his In­dian col­leagues was that their sick­les had been re­placed by stetho­scopes.

The start of Reddi’s in­quiry comes in the month that cel­e­brates the 158th an­niver­sary of the ar­rival of In­di­ans to South Africa.

He ap­peared be­fore HPCSA chair­per­son Sman­gal­iso Ngubane, last week. He pleaded not guilty.

Reddi has been charged with un­pro­fes­sional con­duct to­wards his col­leagues and mak­ing deroga­tory com­ments about staff at the hospi­tal be­tween 2011 and 2012.

The com­plaint against him was lodged by five spe­cial­ist car­dio-tho­racic sur­geons – Diren­dra Ra­jaruth­nam, Kaven Naicker, Ger­ard Roderick Alexan­der, Suren­dra Naidoo and Ju­lian Buckles in 2012.

The sur­geons stated in their af­fi­davits that Reddi of­ten used the k-word to de­scribe black Africans, which in­cluded a pro­fes­sor.

They said Reddi had com­mented that all black peo­ple would re­quire 500 years to evolve and were not ready to take up se­nior po­si­tions be­fore this pe­riod.

He was also ac­cused of us­ing his po­si­tion of strength to get rid of in­di­vid­u­als.

“This wor­ry­ing trend cre­ated un­cer­tainty re­gard­ing our ten­ure as em­ploy­ees,” the af­fi­davit stated.

The sur­geons said, dur­ing a man­age­ment meet­ing with gas­troen­terol­o­gists and gen­eral sur­geons to dis­cuss an en­do­scopic ul­tra­sound on a pa­tient, Reddi al­legedly told them “they should pass the scope up their wives’ in­troi­tus”.

They al­leged he had called an­other col­league a “moffie” and a “use­less doc­tor”, and con­tin­ued that he needed to re­turn to high school and start all over again.

Reddi al­legedly de­scribed the sur­geons as zoo an­i­mals and rats and that he was the zoo-keeper.

He al­legedly told an­other sur­geon that he stank and won­dered how his wife tol­er­ated him.

The sur­geons said in their af­fi­davits that Reddi ran the de­part­ment with com­plete dis­re­gard for the poli­cies, pro­ce­dures or code of con­duct of the De­part­ment of Health and the Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Na­tal.

They said the work en­vi­ron­ment had be­come “hos­tile and in­tol­er­a­ble”.

They claimed Reddy be­lieved he was un­touch­able and that he hid be­hind the pre­text he was a pa­tient ad­vo­cate.

This was his trump card, the sur­geons said.

The sur­geons said it was not un­com­mon to hear Reddi’s al­leged blas­phemy by swear­ing Je­sus Christ and God.

They be­lieve this was in­dica­tive of his in­abil­ity to re­spect and value di­ver­sity of cul­ture, be­lief and opin­ion in the work­place.

They al­leged the same sadis­tic state­ments were also made by him about the Is­lamic faith.

The sur­geons said while they were cog­nisant that their griev­ance could re­sult in them be­ing vic­timised or ham­per their ca­reers, they could no longer al­low the al­leged at­tack to con­tinue.

In June 2013, UKZN ter­mi­nated Reddi’s em­ploy­ment.

The ter­mi­na­tion let­ter stated that his be­hav­iour had been dis­rup­tive, dis­cour­te­ous and dis­re­spect­ful to­wards his fel­low col­leagues.

UKZN Pro­fes­sor MW Mak­goba said in the ter­mi­na­tion let­ter that Reddi had abused the dis­ci­plinary hear­ing pro­cesses by not fin­ish­ing in the al­lo­cated time frame.

He said the in­com­plete hear­ing had cost al­most a R1 mil­lion.

Dur­ing the two-day HPCSA hear­ing, Reddi’s coun­sel ar­gued the charges against his client were un­clear in that the de­tails in the af­fi­davits did not sup­ply dates and times.

The mat­ter was post­poned to next year.

‘In­di­ans have not evolved from the cane-fields. Their only de­vel­op­ment is that their sick­les have been re­placed by stetho­scopes…’

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