Paralympian victorious in Equality Court case against Cape Town wine farm

2018-10-01 14:34
Paralympian swimmer Hendri Herbst and his guide dog, Stan. (Supplied)

Paralympian swimmer Hendri Herbst and his guide dog, Stan. (Supplied)

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A visually impaired Paralympian swimmer has emerged victorious from a three-year discrimination battle with Cape Town wine farm Durbanville Hills.

The wine farm agreed to issue a public apology admitting to discriminating against Hendri Herbst, who was refused entry to the wine farm's restaurant because of the presence of his guide dog.

In the settlement agreement ordered by the Equality Court last week Friday, Durbanville Hills agreed to contribute R50 000 to the South African Guide-Dogs Association, and a further R50 000 to Herbst as compensation.

ALSO READ: Paralympian takes on Cape Town wine estate in discrimination litigation

"I was shocked by the outcome because throughout the entire legal process, they held firm that there was no discrimination," Herbst told News24.

"We were happy to go to court to establish legal precedent, so we were caught off guard when they approached us with a settlement proposal."

However, Herbst said the case was never about the money.

Awareness about rights

"The goal was always to improve awareness about the rights associated with guide dogs. This conversation was long overdue," Herbst, a law student, added.

"Hopefully, employees will take their education and training, with regard to visually impaired persons, seriously."

Dr Theo Broodryk, head of the Stellenbosch Law Clinic, agreed that the settlement was "not only a victory for visually impaired people, but would assist in creating awareness about the right of the disabled not to be discriminated against".

The law clinic instituted legal proceedings in the Equality Court on Herbst's behalf when he was refused entry to the wine farm's restaurant, based on the presence of his guide dog Stan, a golden retriever.

"When we arrived, the hostess would not let us inside because of their 'no dogs' policy. I explained to her that Stan is a guide dog, not a pet," he said.

Herbst claimed that he was not allowed to use the toilet unless he was escorted by a male.

Durbanville Hills has since apologised for the incident and says it is committed to ensuring that all persons, including blind persons with guide dogs, are welcomed at its restaurant and tasting facilities.

"It is the policy of Durbanville Hills that blind persons and their guide dogs are welcome to visit any part of the public areas of the cellar, the tasting room and restaurant," managing director Albert Gerber said.

"Durbanville Hills unconditionally apologises for the experience of Mr Herbst and his family on December 30, 2014 at its tasting and restaurant facilities."

Read more on:    cape town  |  equality  |  courts  |  disabled people

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