WATCH: Blind Paralympian's court victory gives hope to SA guide dog users

2019-06-10 11:54
Hendri Herbst with his guide dog Julian. (Screengrab)

Hendri Herbst with his guide dog Julian. (Screengrab)

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Meet the blind Paralympian who took on the monumental task of changing the rules for people who have working dogs... and won.

Hendri Herbst fought a three-year legal battle against a Cape Town restaurant that denied him entry with his guide dog.

The events took place in December 2014, but Herbst says similar incidents still happen.

"[They] don't just happen to me on a weekly basis, but to all guide dog users," he said.

Herbst, who won bronze for swimming at the London Paralympics in 2012 and is studying towards his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in law, said he pursued the case to help others.

"Our goal was to establish legal precedence and hopefully start the process of changing legislation", Herbst said.

"The idea was never to benefit me or pursue my own agenda. It was to try improve the access situation for all guide dog users," he said.

In the settlement agreement before the Equality Court in October 2018, the restaurant agreed to contribute R50 000 to the South African Guide-Dogs Association, and a further R50 000 to Herbst as compensation.

Mobility instructor and Western Cape regional manager for the association, Cheryl Robertson, said in some cases people didn't understand what a working dog was.

"Most times, it's from the front door where security [officials] don't know," Robertson said.

Robertson said establishments should examine accessibility for guide dog users too.

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