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Barberton doctor retires after 46 years of service

After obtaining his medical degree in Pretoria, he was approached by an established general practitioner to work with him in his offices, however, his heart was with the Barberton community and he came back to his hometown in the early '80s to open his own practice.

After 46 years of serving the Barberton community, Dr Carel Hattingh (74) hung up his stethoscope last Thursday, January 27, after treating his very last patient.

Born and raised in the mountainous town of Barberton, Hattingh finished his matric year at Barberton High School where his father was once the principal, before briefly leaving the tight-knit community to achieve his lifelong dream of becoming a doctor.

Dr Carel Hattingh receives a gift from his staff and patients following his retirement.

After obtaining his medical degree in Pretoria, he was approached by an established general practitioner to work with him in his offices, however, his heart was with the Barberton community and he came back to his hometown in the early ’80s to open his own practice.

“I love Barberton, it is filled with the most wonderful people with such a strong sense of community,” said Carel.

Dr William Lyon Pretorius, Dr Carel Hattingh and Dr Veronique van der Linde.

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His wife, Rhoda, to whom he has been married for 44 years, said her husband was extremely humble when it came to his work and what he had accomplished. “He has worked with patients from Barberton and from surrounding areas. His patients loved him so much that several of them came to his rooms the week before he retired to say goodbye. They were all crying when they said their goodbyes,” she said.

She also added that the pair had even been the mayoral couple from 1990 to 1995, however, Carel said he mostly stuck to his work as a doctor during this period, while Rhoda was doing all the work for the mayoral office.

“He has also delivered many babies in the area, helping first, second and third generations of families, which is incredible to me,” said Rhoda.

Dr Carel Hattingh attends to his very last patient before retiring, Pr Duppie du Plessis.

A patient and friend of Carel’s, Pr Duppie du Plessis, praised the doctor for his kind nature and his eagerness to help others where he could.

“The doctor has such a good heart. He often saw patients free of charge. He is still very popular in the community and the people who know him, love him.”

He said Carel was also involved in various church and community programmes, such as the organisation called Back to the Bible, the Barberton Recovery Centre and a local orphanage.

“He has had a significant impact on this community and those who knew him will not forget him.”

Dr Carel Hattingh attends to his very last patient before retiring, Pr Duppie du Plessis.

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Carel said that while he was quite emotional about retiring, he was excited for a new era. “I have seen thousands of patients over the years and met many wonderful and loyal people. I am, however, very excited for this new part of my life and I am looking forward to spending more time with my beautiful wife,” he said.

He said he was retiring with Rhoda to Bateleur Estate, but may still do some work here and there when needed.  Meanwhile, Carel’s practice will continue to operate with two new doctors, Dr Veronique van der Linde and
Dr William Lyon Pretorius.

The two said they were fully prepared to take on their new positions with great enthusiasm, with over 26 years experience between them.

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