Blind paralympian Hendri Herbst, who faced discrimination while with his guide dog, has accomplished his third degree. Picture: Supplied
Cape Town - Blind paralympian Hendri Herbst, who faced discrimination while with his guide dog, has accomplished his third degree. He will be graduating this week with a Master’s degree in law.

“Initially, I had an interest in the justice system from a young age. But as a person with disability, being blind, I faced a lot of discrimination on a daily basis, and that is what has really motivated me to pursue this degree,” he said.

Herbst, 27, who was born in Tzaneen, moved to the Cape in 1997 to attend a school for the blind in Worcester. The move was also motivated by his father’s dream to specialise as an orthopaedic surgeon, while his mother was a speech therapist.

He completed his first degree in socio-informatics but then decided to pursue a degree in law at Stellenbosch University.

Towards the end of his first year in law, he encountered discrimination at the Durban Hills Winery.

The swimmer visited the restaurant in 2014 after showing his girlfriend’s parents and grandmother around the city.

Herbst was allegedly told the restaurant had a policy against dogs and he and his party would have to sit outside.

He explained it was guide dog he relied on but was still refused entry. Herbst took the winery to the Equality Court and the winery made a settlement.

The winery agreed to apologise and pay him R50 000. Durbanville Hills will further contribute R50 000 to the Guide Dogs Association.

“The incident motivated me more. It was clear from an early stage that it depends on myself to stand up for my rights and make a difference. I knocked on various doors not getting a positive response.

“Guide dog users have no one to stand up for them. People don’t want to speak up and represent you,” he said. 

Herbst has been given an opportunity to do his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Law.

“It is a joint collaboration, Stellenbosch University and Hasselt University, in Belgium. After three years I will get my doctorate and once that is completed I will have an option to enter private practise,” he said.

Herbst said he was interested in Commercial Law, as he was doing research on Tax Law. He said he is also keen on venturing into Human Rights Law where he can assist people with disabilities.

“I am very excited about everything. At the end of a long hard year my reward has come out,” he said.

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Cape Argus