Joburg surgeon, 75, charged with murder of 3 patients may face more charges

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Peter Beale.
Peter Beale.
Werner Beukes, Netwerk24
  • A Johannesburg paediatric surgeon has been charged with killing three patients.
  • Professor Peter Beale is also facing charges of fraud for allegedly misleading the parents about their children's conditions.
  • The State could add extra charges against the embattled doctor.

The Johannesburg paediatric surgeon facing three murder charges after his young patients died following surgery could face more charges. 

Professor Peter Beale - who faces five charges, including fraud and murder - appeared in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Prosecutor advocate Elize le Roux told Judge Dario Dosio more charges could be added.

"The matter [trial] was expected to start today. However, the court is involved with another matter.

"After being served with an indictment with additional charges, the defence indicated they might bring an application for separation. Roux has asked to determine a new date at the beginning of a new term as it is difficult during a term. 

"A draft order with a timeline has been prepared. The number of witnesses [expected to testify] has been reduced to 36. There is a possibility of more charges to be added," said Le Roux.

Beale's advocate, Barry Roux, responded they had to endure two postponements before the case was heard in court.

READ | SA Society of Anaesthesiologists condemns warrant of arrest for doctor accused of culpable homicide

Dosio said it was unfortunate the trial could not start because the court was seized with two matters.

"Specialised interpreters are [also] not available. I hope next year will be fruitful for the matter to commence," he added.

According to the indictment, Beale, 75, is facing three counts of murder and two fraud charges.

It is alleged on 30 and 31 March 2012, Beale caused the death of a three-year-old boy.

He allegedly defrauded the child's mother by claiming pathology results obtained on 12 March 2012 (before the boy's death) at Parklane Netcare Clinic revealed a rectal biopsy stating the child had Hirschsprung's disease that required surgical intervention in the form of a rectal pull through.

Beale allegedly knew there was no confirmation of the existence of the disease in the rectal biopsy. Consequently, the rectal pull-through procedure was neither necessary nor appropriate.

The cause of death was consistent with septic peritonitis as a complication of surgery for Hirschsprung's.

It is alleged on 29 July 2016, the accused caused the death of a 21-month-old girl at Morningside Medi-Clinic.

The child was born with oesophageal atresia and suffered from gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.

READ | Richards Bay surgeon faces shock murder charge after death of patient

Beale claimed she was required to undergo a laparoscopic nissen fundoplication.

After the operation, the girl went pale, and her oxygen saturation levels stopped.

It is alleged the accused's recklessness in failing to adequately or appropriately assess and address the blood loss suffered ultimately caused the child to go into bradycardia.

She died of myocarditis in a person undergoing surgery.

Again, between 10 September and 11 October 2019, Beale allegedly also caused the death of a 10-year-old boy at Parklane Netcare Clinic.

It is alleged he misrepresented to the boy's parents he had intestinal metaplasia, which necessitated a laparoscopic nissen fundoplication procedure.

Beale allegedly knew there were no features of intestinal metaplasia nor any feature of dysplasia or malignancy in the sections of the distal oesophageal biopsy, and the procedure was neither necessary nor appropriate.

The trial was postponed to 22 January 2024.

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