Fired 'for being HIV-positive'

01 December 2010 - 02:46 By SALLY EVANS

The Johannesburg Labour Court has heard how a "highly qualified" horse-riding instructor was fired after telling his bosses he was HIV-positive.

Gary Allpass, 48, was allegedly dismissed as stable yard manager and riding instructor at the Mooikloof Equestrian Centre, part of the prestigious Mooikloof Estate in Pretoria, two years ago.

Yesterday, he testified that he was fired two days after completing a compulsory health questionnaire on which he revealed his HIV status.

Allpass, a qualified equestrian judge, testified that his former manager, Dawie Malan, came to see him "in a bad mood" two weeks after he landed the job.

"I could see he was angry. He asked me why I had lied to them about being HIV-positive," he told the court. "Mr Malan said I was fired because I had been dishonest."

When he testified on Monday, Malan said Allpass was dismissed due to a "breakdown in trust" as he was "dishonest about his illnesses".

Yesterday, Allpass testified that Malan told him and two colleagues to fill out the questionnaire. On his form, he included the fact that he was receiving treatment for deep vein thrombosis. He also revealed that he suffered from asthma and was allergic to penicillin.

But in court papers, Mooikloof management said it was because Allpass did not reveal his illnesses and allergies that the relationship between them had broken down.

They also said that Allpass's failure to reveal his penicillin allergy in his job interview meant he had not only lied, but did not meet the "inherent" requirements of the job as stable manager.

Malan has said Allpass "knew or should have known" that he would be required to inject horses with penicillin.

But Allpass's advocate, Warren Bank, rubbished their explanation yesterday, telling the court that this was "nothing more than an afterthought and smoke-screen to conceal what is clearly nothing less than blatant discrimination based solely on HIV status".

After Allpass was dismissed, he claims that the estate's security guards forced him off the property, where he was also living, and called him a "vagrant and a moffie".

Allpass testified that he had injected horses with penicillin before, but had never mistakenly "pricked" himself.

Allpass, who has lived with HIV for the past 19 years, said his health was good and his viral load was "undetectible", thanks to antiretroviral drugs.

The case continues today.