The surgeon is also accused of using the k-word, speaking with sexual innuendos, blasphemy and telling a colleague he had bad body odour.
Durban – A Durban 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Luthuli Central Hospital, allegedly said the only development among his Indian colleagues was that their sickles had been replaced by stethoscopes.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 R1million.
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.