HPCSA condemns 'vigilante behaviour' in 'gruesome' death of anaesthetist, Dr Abdulhay Munshi

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The scene of the incident.
The scene of the incident.
Azarrah Karrim, News24
  • The HPCSA has condemned the death of anaesthetist Dr Abdulhay Munshi, saying people cannot take the law into their own hands. 
  • Dr Kgosi Letlape, HPCSA chairperson called on the profession to stand together.
  • Munshi was shot dead in Johannesburg on Wednesday. He was a co-accused in a case of culpable homicide along with Dr Peter Beale.

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) said apparent "vigilante behaviour" was involved in the "untimely and gruesome death" of anaesthetist, Dr Abdulhay Munshi, on Wednesday.

READ| Doctor accused of culpable homicide shot dead in Johannesburg

Speaking during a briefing on Thursday, HPCSA chairperson Dr Kgosi Letlape said health professional should stand together to protect the profession.

"We feel this is a sad day and it is extremely dangerous if healthcare professionals are going to be treated like criminals," Letlape said.

Munshi was shot in Johannesburg on Wednesday afternoon.

He was a co-accused in a case of culpable homicide alongside pediatric surgeon Dr Peter Beale in connection with the death of 10-year-old Zayyan Sayed shortly after she underwent surgery.

The matter was in its early stages and had been postponed to next month.

Letlape said Munshi's killing had "serious implications" for doctors.

"I would have difficulty continuing practising my profession if this is how society is going to treat us," he said.

"We do not want to have professionals now selecting that this patient is likely to die, I’m not going to take a risk to try and save a life because by saving a life I have threatened my own life.

"We do not want to practice under those circumstances or have a climate of fear when we have a solemn duty and an oath to uphold to put our patients first."

The HPCSA was investigating the complaints against Munshi and Beale when the matter was taken to court and criminal charges were laid against the two.

Letlape said due process needed to be followed in the medicine field within a sector that is self-regulated.

He added that the inquiry into Beale and Munshi was interrupted by the decision to press charges, instead of leaving the matter to "independent structures".

"What is impacting on our ability to do our job is that… there is an unlawful process that is happening in the courts of law," he charged.

"On our side in this matter, we've done all we can, just like we do with all other matters."

"Part of what has contributed to the delays is legalisation of our processes," Letlape said.

Letlape said the HPCSA was "painfully aware of the contagion of legalisation" in the field and was seeking to rewrite regulations to stop delays in investigations, turning current processes within the council "similar to the courts".  

"On the notion that people can take the law into their own hands on a case they know nothing about just because you have a matter that has taken years… it would be extremely unfortunate if we are now beginning to look for justification for vigilante behaviour against the professionals," Letlape said.

ALSO READ | Killing of Dr Abdulhay Munshi is 'outrageous and deplorable' – SAMA

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