Assisted suicide ruling could result in law change

2015-04-30 19:25
Dignity SA member Patsy Schonegevel stands outside the North Gauteng High Court holding a picture of her son Craig. (Thomas Hartleb, News24)

Dignity SA member Patsy Schonegevel stands outside the North Gauteng High Court holding a picture of her son Craig. (Thomas Hartleb, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - If the State’s appeal against the High Court in Pretoria’s ruling allowing a terminally ill cancer patient to commit suicide with a doctor’s help fails, Parliament will have to change legislation to accommodate this, an advocate said on Thursday.

If the Supreme Court of Appeal says the ruling by Judge Hans Fabricius can stand, it could go to the Constitutional Court, said Advocate Elton Hart, of the University of Johannesburg’s Law Clinic.

Justice ministry spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said they would appeal the ruling as it had far-reaching implications for the powers of the National Prosecuting Authority.

If the highest court in the land rejects the appeal, new legislation will have to be enacted to regulate assisted dying.

“The State then has to bring new legislation into play to ensure that these things are not taken lightly,” Hart said.

He was responding to Fabricius’s order that Robin Stransham-Ford, 65, can commit suicide with a doctor’s help.

Stransham-Ford died earlier on Thursday.

The ruling ensures that the doctor who helps him die cannot be prosecuted or have disciplinary proceedings brought against him.

Council for the justice minister, Lesego Montsho, SC, had argued against Stransham-Ford’s application on the grounds that, unlike in a country like the Netherlands, there was no legislative
framework to deal with the matter.

Hart said it was the role of judges not only to interpret the law, but also develop common law, while keeping the Constitution in mind.

Mhaga could not immediately be reached to determine if the appeal would still go ahead.

Read more on:    robin stransham-ford  |  cape town  |  pretoria  |  parliament 2015  |  legislature

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.