Monday, July 13, 2015, 12 : 02 pm
Present: Dr Yumna Moosa (Intern in Anaesthetics at Addington Hospital), Dr Mario Rankin (Orthopaedic MO at Addington Hospital)
A conversation in which Yumna asks Dr Rankin, who had worked at Addington for several years, to accompany her to a second meeting with hospital management.
[click on timestamps in text to skip to position in audio*]
Rankin: Everything okay?
Rankin: Everything okay?
Yumna: No. Everything isn’t okay. I’m in an extremely difficult and complicated position, because I reported in my logbook that I thought that there were sexist and racist and sexually inappropriate comments made during my orthopaedic rotation.
Rankin: Are you talking about Dr Jorge?
Yumna: Uh… mostly.
Yumna: Mostly. Um… the reason I am chatting to you about it… if… it might put you in an uncomfortable position just having this conversation, if it does, like, it’s done, its stopped.
Rankin: Wait, okay, so what is the… Did they find a problem with you making those comments?
Rankin: Which bothered Mr Maritz in particular?
Yumna: It’s unclear at this point. What happened is that I was called to a meeting on Friday. I was in the meeting for three hours…
Yumna: [00:58] …being interrogated, threatened, told that I…
Rankin: Who chaired the meeting?
Yumna: Dr Fabian. He introduced himself, yes, as the, yes, the impartial third-party mediator, and then proceeded to basically attack me for the… the next three hours. And… Okay, but first let me tell you why I’m chatting to you.
Yumna: We’re gonna have another informal meeting…
Yumna: …before it goes formal.
Yumna: Uh… the same people that were there. I asked that I bring somebody, they said, ‘Only somebody from the hospital’. Um… I wanted to ask you if you’d come because although I don’t know you very well, you seem like somebody who’s a person of integrity. And when I was in that meeting, I felt like everybody was speaking in completely bad faith.
Rankin: Okay, so just the people… okay so first of all, this meeting was held by…?
Yumna: [02:02] Fabian, Maritz, Alicia Aron the intern coordinator, Smah…Smangele Shezi the Labour Relations person…
Yumna: …and Jabu was there too.
Rankin: So that was an informal…
Yumna: It was an informal meeting.
Rankin: To find out why you said the things that you said.
Rankin: Okay, so yes, obviously you have a right to say if there were sexist remarks passed. In particular I think we have to know all the details, so it was… Dr Jorge was one of them, and who else?
Yumna: It’s mostly Dr Jorge. There were other, like, small-scale…. like, small-scale events but that’s just like… like there is sexism in the world…
Yumna: [02:43]…there is sexism in South Africa. And so that’s why I like, I can’t say ‘Dr Jorge is the only sexist person in this hospital,’ but, um… his behaviour was the one that I found most problematic. But that said, my intention to begin with was not to actually get… follow a formal grievance procedure. But the way things have played out now, I’m in quite a difficult position because I’ve received a number of threats, mostly from Dr Fabian…
Rankin: What sort of, like, threats though? Because it doesn’t have much to do with him, technically.
Yumna: No, but Maritz asked him to… it was unclear because Aron said afterwards that Maritz asked him to represent Maritz. But he introduced himself as an impartial mediator, so it’s a bit of a, like, confusing… It’s a confusing space.
Rankin: Okay… Alright. So what did they bring up at that meeting though? Just best [?] to say if you take it back [?] or…
Yumna: [03:48] So it was hilarious. It started out with him saying, ‘You wrote sexism here’. ..No, it started out with racism. ‘You wrote racism here. What does racism mean?’ And I was like, ‘Prejudice on the basis of race’, and he was like, ‘So that means that even though this department has three white people, five Indian people, two Coloured people… You are coloured right?’ And I was like, ‘Well, I don’t racially classify myself,’ and he was like, ‘Well you have to. You’re Coloured.’ And so all of the people of the same race group must be experiencing the same thing, otherwise it’s not racism. And I was like, ‘That’s not the definition.’ Then everyone around the circle was like, ‘Yes, yes, no that is, that’s what…’ It was like a bizarre, ridiculous experience.
Rankin: This was them against you.
Yumna: They were like, ‘You are unprofessional because you ate three times in class. Even though Dr Jorge asked you not to eat, you ate three times. How do you expect him to respond professionally when you ask him to not make sexist jokes if you are going to eat in class? And you doodled in his lecture once. And you were pretending to take notes but you doodled.’ So it was basically… processing it now, I think it was just harassment to try and get me to back down.
Rankin: [04:57] Ja.
Yumna: After the meeting…
Yumna: Fabian called me here, coz I came back to anaesthetics, and he says to me, ‘Dr Moosa, the only way you’re gonna get out of this… I’m telling you this coz I’m on your side… is you need to lose your logbook, write an affidavit that you’ve lost it, and then start over again.’ And then you come to the meeting and you say, ‘An Act of God has occurred. My logbook is missing, and I am sorry I said all of those things, they were inappropriate…’, and then the problem will go away. So I’m just in quite a difficult situation at the moment.
Rankin: [05:34] Um… I think… okay so the reason that they’re being… So yes, okay, you have a right to say all the things about how you felt, and that’s why the HPCSA puts it there. They’re in a bit of sticky situation because this is somebody’s job on the line. So they know… and they probably know in their hearts as well, that Dr Jorge has a personality issue like this, and I think that they probably thought they would try and target you first, to see if you could back down, before they probably approach Dr Jorge and say, ‘Look, if this does go, his job is on the line and that’s his career… is on the line.’
And we’ve all known that Dr Jorge has, has been very… In fact there was another… there was a Muslim consultant we had just before… 2013, 2012, who had spoken to him about similar things, about how you can’t say those sorts of things, especially about Muslim females, you can’t touch Muslim females like that, you just can’t do those sorts of things. Whether he took it to heart or whether he… I’m not sure.
Yumna: Clearly not, right?
Rankin: [06:45] Ja. So, the… they all know that Dr Jorge has been around a long time, and I don’t know if they probably realise that they can tell him to… ‘Look you have to change your behaviour,’ or whatever the situation is. They obviously went with what they thought was the smaller target, and they approached you about it. And they have, okay, not specifically about sexism, but they have in the past dealt with an intern who had said something about there being no teaching, and they approached her as well, and said ‘Look you have to….’ So their situation is that they basically go to an intern and they say, ‘You have to take this out completely,’ or rewrite it, or that it was wrong or whatever. But then the HPCSA obviously don’t… that’s not necessarily what they want, they want the true feeling of every single individual that passes through a place. But the way forward though is still gonna be quite difficult. Because I think that both parties need to say… express their concerns.
Rankin: Why are they so concerned? Will they lose their accreditation, or will they lose, you know, credibility. Is it… specifically if you don’t mention any particular names, the whole department has a sort of…
Yumna: [07:56] Tarnished.
Rankin: …has a thing over their head, ja. So why I think that’s why he also got Dr Fabian involved, and… cause he needs a lot of backup. It’s a big thing as HOD.
Yumna: Ja, so… I’m sad that that happened…
Yumna: …the way that it did, because I… I respect Maritz. I actually should use past tense now, because the way that he treated me on Friday… I’m meeting with him again tomorrow at half past eight… Basically… but to say that the way that he treated his junior colleague who reported that she was feeling discriminated against was something that he should be ashamed of. And should make him lose sleep for a couple of nights. But that said, I actually don’t want to be destructive. I don’t want anyone to lose their job, I don’t want…
Rankin: No I agree. Was that the first meeting you had with him?
Rankin: What was the first meeting?
Yumna: [08:48] So the first time was actually long ago, like a week and a half into orthopaedics. I met with Dr Jorge, for fifteen minutes, or twenty minutes… Dr Jorge says… mmm standard Dr Jorge things, he’s married to a Muslim, he knows the Koran, I must keep my Islam at home because that’s the only problem… reason I can be offended. And I was like, well actually I’m not offended as a Muslim, I’m offended as a woman, and a person. And he was like, ‘No you can’t, blah, blah, blah.’ So he just, like, fobbed me off at that meeting, but also, like… I have a reasonable relationship with Dr Jorge, like we get on… well, again, past tense, we got on fine. My intention was to give feedback because I couldn’t leave this rotation and them continuing to think everything is one hundred percent perfect and hunky dory. Like, it’s not. And it’s wonderful, and we got fantastic teaching and I got the best orthopaedic teaching I’ve gotten in my life and I really enjoyed it. But there is sexism and racism in this country and it manifests quite strongly in this department, and I think it was worth pointing out, because I do think that with time it needs to change. And the only way that it’s going to change is if people say, ‘This is what’s happening. Let’s have, like, a conversation about it. So that it can stop.’
Rankin: [10:06] Ja.
Yumna: And that was my intention. I sent… I sent Mr Maritz a long email saying something to that effect, and I wrote this in the logbook. That was the reason I sent the email…
Rankin: Oh, I see.
Yumna: …cause I didn’t just want to like write it in the logbook and be, I dunno, like, childish and rude about it. Obviously that is not how it played out, but that was… that was my thought process, ‘Let my comment be more kind’.
Rankin: And his reply to that?
Yumna: The reply to the email…
Yumna: Cause the email started… it was quite informal, it says, ‘I think that you’re fantastic.’ And so he says, ‘Do you know my wife reads this email? This is my personal email. This has caused trouble in my marriage, because you said, ‘I think you’re fantastic’, so this could be sexual harassment. You accuse us of sexual harassment? This is sexual harassment.’ And I was like… So Maritz is behaving badly. He’s… he’s scared and he’s threatened, but he’s behaving like a crap person.
Rankin: [11:05] He’s trying to find… ja, he’s finding the loophole for him and his department.
Yumna: I dunno… like I assume you have a reasonable relationship with the man…
Yumna: If… if you feel invested in this at all, I’d appreciate you saying to him that actually I’m not a threat to him?
Yumna: At this point the best way to deal with me is to actually deal with me respectfully. And to say, ‘I’m sorry I treated you like crap.’ Cause if he says, ‘I’m sorry I treated you like crap,’ then we can actually negotiate a little bit.
Rankin: Ja, ja, I think they… they… like you say they… in like what Dr Fabian says, that the way is to try to interrogate to such a way… look, I don’t agree with it… for them to just withdraw completely their comments or whatever. So that they don’t get any tarnishing. Like you said.
Yumna: [11:53] Ja.
Rankin: But I think, again, both parties need to, like you need to have impartial people who are being able to say, ‘Yes…’ And to realise that it was more of a… If we need to deal with somebody technically, we need to deal with the personality of Dr Jorge or… If somebody says they feel he’s… that… this way about him, then they feel that way about him. Irrespective of what they think the definition is or whatever, that was the way you worded it, and ja…
Yumna: Anyway, I… so I wanted to chat about it just to get a little bit of perspective.
Rankin: Ja. Do you want me to speak to Mr Maritz per se, or…?
Yumna: Well, I’m going to speak to him tomorrow as well and see how it goes…
Yumna: I’m still hoping we can avoid going a formal route with this, but… I dunno…
Rankin: Look, ja, you can tell him that…
Yumna: …we’ll see, maybe it will have to go formal.
Rankin: [12:52] Ja, you can tell him that we spoke and the fact that yes, being with Dr Jorge a lot longer, that I’ve noticed these sort of things, and I’m not surprised that somebody, eventually was gonna be able to say something. I mean, if anything, he needs to sit… I don’t know if he has sat Dr Jorge down and said, ‘Look, what do you think Dr Jorge… you did that… you said that this person does such and such.’ I mean we’ve all heard Dr Jorge talk about inappropriate things in front of… Some people are more sensitive than others. And not necessarily that even if you are very sensitive, even if somebody is a very sensitive person. Not necessarily meaning that you can speak to certain people about certain things, we just have to… there are just certain things you don’t say at work. And Dr Jorge doesn’t have those boundaries. So… ja, you can say that you spoke to me and I’ll… if he wants to come and speak to me as well on the one on one, I’ll speak to him as well and tell him that if we have to deal with something here, we have to deal with how he… if we want to prevent it from ever happening again… deal with Dr Jorge’s behaviour. But his biggest thing is that this logbook is gonna leave here and go to the HPCSA. That’s his biggest worry.
Yumna: [14:04] So… what I was intending going to the meeting on Friday, and maybe this part you can actually help me with… was… what I wanted… what I wanted to propose is to come up with strategies that are positive coming out of this complaint, and then after those complaints to write in my logbook, ‘Management at this hospital undertook serious action to correct this and I appreciate that.’ So some ideas: distribute a policy on sexual harassment to the hospital. Make it clear what you can’t be threatened with. Like you can’t be threatened with losing your job, you can’t be threatened with being unemployable, you can’t like… Protecting the person who complains.
Rankin: Yes. Yes.
Yumna: [14:53] And then also diversity training for the senior leadership, because the fact that they sat me down and gave me a whole lot of really, incorrect definitions about what constitutes racism and sexism… Like, they need to sit down and learn that stuff because then… the thought for me that they have done this to people before, and that they will continue to do this people…
Rankin: …mmm… it’s been before…
Yumna: …to people again is horrific. Like, it’s been incredibly difficult for me and I have a very healthy self-esteem. And I… I mean it was hilarious sitting in that meeting and the things they were criticising me for were eating in class, doodling, and…
Rankin: Again, I think probably Dr Jorge brought that forward to find any way to save himself.
Yumna: Absolutely, but the fact is… if something had been different, say I had missed a call, say I had made a mistake with a patient and done something a lot more serious… but then I would have been a lot more vulnerable. And the thought that in a year’s time there could be a much more vulnerable person that get’s put through this process again, like, that’s not acceptable, and they need to feel that it’s not acceptable.
Rankin: [15:58] Look a lot of those things that you said, those strategies about… you have talks about such and such, those are very good. But also I think you need to add there that there were other people from a similar group, or there were other people from previous groups who had rotated, had been interviewed… if they felt such and such feelings, I think you need to mention that as well. If those…
Yumna: No, that’s the other thing they told me: in ten years, I have been the only person who has said anything negative about this department.
Rankin: No, but not necessarily being negative… Is it probable that you’ve heard such and such in his classes? Is it probable that it might have been perceived in such and such a way? And yes, I have sat in some of those… and yes, I know that it can be perceived in such a way. And yes, that’s why I’m saying it’s not about necessarily the complaints, because everybody’s personalities are different, and everybody’s goals and things are different…
Rankin: [16:53] …but is it probable that you heard this? Is it probable that it may have been seen in such a light? And of course, there will be many people who will…said… yes, he had said something like that. To them… to somebody else maybe it’s not inappropriate, and somebody else is just probably too scared to say anything. So that… we’ve spoken to other people who have rotated through, we’ve dealt with the actual person who was possibly accused, we’ve dealt with that person in terms of… you know, is that… in terms of, you said your senior management… you were saying…. so this….the workshops were done about sexual harassment, about sexism. Positive… all positive things that came out of it. So dealt with the person involved about how he possibly thinks that he can change his behaviour, if he thinks he did anything wrong. So ja, along with those things that you said, talking about interviewing the previous groups, or people in the same group, and talking about dealing with it. I think those are all positives…
Yumna: Ja, that’s kind of what I’m trying to push for, cause I don’t actually… I still don’t want this to get formal and legal and…
Rankin: [17:58] Because you’re right, if it does, it’ll go right to the top, it will be huge. But you also don’t want to feel threatened not to, they must deal with it. You are as much an adult as anybody else there at that…. Now it doesn’t count anything about rank, it counts about people as human beings, and how they feel. It has nothing to do with… they can’t threaten you with anything. You completed the block, you have something to… that they’re not happy about, so you’ve got nothing to feel threatened…. nothing to feel threatened about.
Yumna: Ja, so maybe… if… when the next meeting does happen, if I could… if you available to come be there, that would be really cool.
Rankin: Ja, tell them tomorrow that you spoke to me, and that if you want to me to go to the meeting I can be at the meeting.
Yumna: Cool, I’d really appreciate that.
Rankin: It’s not a problem at all. Ja… I really hope… cause I can… ja, that’s something that can really moderate it…
Yumna: [19:00] Ja.
Rankin: Specially when you’ve had, you know… you’ve had a good rotation, it didn’t seem like you were unhappy at all at the time, it didn’t seem like…
Yumna: No I wasn’t.
Rankin: And ja, no, you worked well, you worked hard, that’s good.
Yumna: I liked it. I even, like… I felt positive feelings towards Dr Jorge, I just think that he behaves in a way that is problematic. And that was… that was what I wanted to say.
Rankin: We’ve all known that. We’ve all known that and I don’t know why they’re acting so surprised by that. Dr Jorge was at that meeting, and somebody else, like, Ansah-Maseeha actually, she was at that meeting, and I’ve got nothing personal against Dr Jorge neither, and I’m not going to necessarily say to Dr Jorge, ‘You need to change.’ ‘Dr Jorge, you… somebody can perceive it like this.’ He’s had somebody before tell him about such and such, you know… I dunno if all Cubans are like that or what the story is, but he will… he will… we literally just can take it down to personality of Dr Jorge, and he doesn’t know when he’s out of line. He doesn’t know when he’s out of line. And they probably feeling more threatened… I’m talking about the other team… feeling more threatened than you actually are. Because if it gets out, it’s big. It’s huge. And that’s why you had a whole bunch of them trying to… you know, ‘take that back, take that back, lose your logbook,’ sort of thing. They’re more scared of the situation getting out than you.
Yumna: [20:22] I know, but like…
Rankin: That’s how it is.
Yumna: So yes, I know that, but…
Rankin: They’re just dealing with it in completely the wrong way.
Yumna: …and this is why I’m delaying the meeting until after I’m on leave, because I don’t want to… I’m trying not to act on the fact that I feel completely… I mean, I have feelings to deal with. I am angry, I’m hurt, I am offended… I’m particularly offended by how Mr Maritz behaves, because I know him, and because in many other ways he does really fantastic work. And I think he does important work.
Rankin: [21:00] Ja.
Yumna: And one of the things he said in the meeting was he chose not to work in the private sector and he came here because he believes in the work and I believe him, but then he can’t treat his junior staff in the way that he treated me. Like, it’s just…
Rankin: Ja, I think again it was more of a… a threat thing. They’re trying to… trying to…
Yumna: Yes, but like what kind of decent human being does that?
Rankin: No, its not. You’re right. It’s not decent. It’s not a decent way of dealing with it.
Yumna: I was just like…I hope… maybe the only thing, ever in the world, that might make me behave like that is if somebody threatened my mom. I then might, potentially, be a little bit nasty. Maybe. But probably even then, if I was, I’d feel terrible about it. And I’d go home and I’d cry, for having been such a crap person. And I’m speaking in very strong words, but, like, who bullies a junior colleague?
Rankin: No, that’s exactly what it is, hey.
Yumna: [22:00] It’s bullying.
Rankin: That’s exactly what it is, it’s bullying, ja.
Yumna: It’s big, grown-up people, and like…
Rankin: Ja, bullying.
Yumna: Bullying. All together.
Rankin: That’s exactly what it is.
Yumna: Anyway. Okay, it’s teatime. I have to go back to work.
Rankin: But ja, like I said, when you speak to [INAUDIBLE WORD @ 22:14] , I’ll speak to him as well, you’ll come to me, we can say we both on both sides. Look at both sides. [INAUDIBLE WORDS @ 22:22-23] don’t have any issues. Obviously you’ll want to speak with me first. But that’s also [INAUDIBLE WORD @ 22:28].
Yumna: Cool. Thank you.