News24

No more comments, NPA asks Netcare

2011-02-27 21:18

Johannesburg - Netcare will no longer comment on reports about cross-border kidney transplant operations performed in its hospitals, the healthcare group said in a statement.

This, after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) asked the group to no longer respond to media comments, Netcare said on Saturday.

"We have agreed to honour this request," it said.

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga was not immediately available to comment.

Netcare was fined R7.8m last year after pleading guilty to illegally acquiring and transplanting human kidneys at the St Augustine’s Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.

Since then, it has been alleged that the healthcare group also conducted illegal transplants at its hospitals in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town between 2001 and 2003.

The Saturday Star reported that surgeons Professor John Robbs, Professor Ariff Hafejee, Dr Neil Christopher and Dr Mahadev Naidoo appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court this week in connection with their alleged part in the transplants.

They faced charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and contravening of the Human Tissues Act and were expected to go on trial on May 27.

In its statement Netcare said it was dismayed that illegal operations had been performed at some of its facilities.

It would never condone unlawful conduct by its employees, it said.

"Towards the end of 2010, the prosecuting authorities engaged with Netcare concerning the cross-border kidney operations that were performed at the St Augustine's Hospital in Durban," it said.

In the course of this engagement, Netcare concluded that certain of its employees must have been aware that the cross-border kidney operations were illegal and that their conduct and knowledge was legally attributable to Netcare KwaZulu-Natal.

"The board of Netcare determined that Netcare KZN had wrongfully benefited from the proceeds of these operations, and that Netcare KZN should plead guilty to certain offences and forfeit the benefits that it had received."

Netcare said it had publicly apologised on several occasions for what transpired and pointed out that the last of the illegal operations was performed at the end of 2003.

"Since then, Netcare has devoted considerable time and attention to ensure that the laws and guidelines issued by the department of health and Netcare's own internal guidelines are meticulously adhered to and enforced," it said.