Vet fined for illegal drug sales

2011-02-03 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL veterinary surgeon Sydney Pringle has to hand over R70 414 he made from illegal drug sales to the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU).

The sum was ruled by Pietermaritzburg Regional Court magistrate S. Mngomezulu to be the proceeds of the illegal sale of highly dangerous veterinary drugs to members of the game capture industry.

Mngomezulu found this week that the AFU was entitled to recover the money from Pringle.

In addition, Pringle was fined R200 000 or 10 years’ imprisonment, the whole of which was conditionally suspended for five years, arising from the criminal charges of which he was convicted last November.

Pringle (46), of Richmond, was found guilty of 50 counts of unlawfully selling unregistered drugs to game capture operators in KZN.

The medicines are supposed to be administered only under veterinary supervision and control.

Evidence was led that Pringle had sold the drugs to game capture operators for use without his direct supervision.

Pringle was also convicted of contravening the Medicine and Related Substances Act (of 1965) for failing to keep a proper register of schedule six medicines bought and sold by him as required; as well as failure to keep an accurate prescription book or permanent record for medicines sold by himself; and a total of 22 counts of keeping unregistered veterinary medicines for sale without package inserts or proper labels containing vital information.

The immobilising drugs that Pringle sold were described during the trial as so toxic that miniscule amounts could cause death.

A medicines control officer with the Department of Health, Russell Coote, who gave evidence, said records revealed that some of the drugs sold by Pringle had been sent to unqualified buyers by post.

By doing so he had put at risk the lives of the public who may have unknowingly come into contact with the drugs.

Coote said it is essential that a person handling such drugs has an antidote available as the smallest prick on a finger with the drugs could prove fatal.

Pringle’s actions had also endangered the animals to which the drugs were administered by untrained people.

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