Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC was left ‘shocked and disgusted’ following allegations by five pregnant women that they were assaulted by a lay counsellor at Cato Manor Community Health Centre, says a Daily News report.
Lay counsellors are usually responsible with patient education that helps to facilitate and promote basic knowledge about HIV as well as adherence to treatment. Dhlomo said that five pregnant women were overheard in the corridors of the health centre, talking among themselves about how the male lay counsellor had touched their private parts during their individual consultations with him. Some of the women were allegedly told to take off their underwear and then the 45-year-old counsellor would touch their genitals with a glove. The women were then interviewed by a senior manager who then alerted district management.
Dhlomo is quoted in the report as saying that the lay counsellor has since been suspended pending a formal investigation into the matter. His hearing is scheduled for 15 February. The department understands that no formal criminal charges had been laid against the lay counsellor yet.
“We are really taken aback by these allegations. The department has no place for people who prey on unsuspecting clients by perpetuating such an atrocity. As a department, we are always making a clarion call on women to present themselves to health facilities as soon as they suspect that they may be pregnant,” said Dhlomo.
“We always preach the gospel that those who have been confirmed to be pregnant must attend antenatal clinics and follow the schedule as prescribed by healthcare workers. Now, for someone to allegedly violate these women in this manner really flies in the face of all of our efforts. The mere thought of something like this is sickening. We hope the law will take its course and rid the department of this bad apple,” said Dhlomo.Daily News report