HPCSA to approach presidency regarding criminal matter against doctors

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The scene of the incident.
The scene of the incident.
Azarrah Karrim, News24
  • HPCSA chairperson, Dr Kgosi Letlape, has said the council will approach the presidency for intervention in the criminal matter against anaesthetist Dr Abdulhay Munshi and paediatric surgeon Dr Peter Beale. 
  • He said the council were "perturbed" by what happened on Wednesday and expressed disappointment that the medical profession had been criminalised with a "disastrous" outcome.
  • Munshi was shot dead by an unknown suspect. He was a co-accused in a case of culpable homicide along with paediatric sugeon Dr Peter Beale.

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) plans to take the matter about the death of anaesthetist Dr Abdulhay Munshi to the presidency.

READ | Doctor accused of culpable homicide shot dead in Johannesburg

In a briefing on Thursday, a day after Munshi was shot dead in Johannesburg, chairperson of the HPCSA Dr Kgosi Letlape, denounced the killing in the strongest terms.

"As council we are extremely perturbed by what has happened and as we have tried in the matter to intervene and ensure the profession is treated with respect and professional acts are not criminalised and the laws of the country are followed in terms of procedure," Letlape said.

He said the council had previously written to the relevant authorities to take the matter out of court with no success.

Letlape said the HPCSA will now be turning to the President for help.

"We are planning to write again to the authorities to ensure that this matter is taken out of the criminal courts and the laws of the country are followed, we will still pursue that matter.

"We will reappraise the minister who we report to on these matters and we will escalate the matter to the highest office in the land: the Office of President of the Republic.

"We feel this is a sad day and it is dangerous if healthcare professionals are going to be treated like criminals. We hope this will be corrected as soon as possible."

Rewriting policy

Munshi was shot and killed on Wednesday afternoon by an unknown suspect. 

News24 were on scene hours after the shooting and understand that nothing was stolen from his car. The motive of the shooting is still unknown.

Beale and Munshi were taken to court on charges of culpable homicide last year after the death of a 10-year-old boy following an operation with Beale, during which Munshi assisted. 

Letlape said the HPCSA's investigation into the matter was hindered by the family's decision to take the matter to court, especially their investigation into Munshi.

The HPCSA are now seeking to rewrite policies and regulations within the council to prevent delays in investigations and which will see the HPCSA functioning more like a court of law.

Criminalisation of medicine

He further denounced the killing of Munshi, saying it spelled bad news for health professionals.

"If South Africans are going to criminalise the practice of medicine it will be a sad day as… people will be scared to take care of citizens."

Letlape explained that certain processes needed to be followed when complaints were lodged against doctors and he slammed the justice cluster for "criminalising the profession".

"We are extremely disappointed at the fact that the law makers and the police who are supposed to protect all of us and uphold the rule of law, chose not to uphold the rule of law in this instance and criminalise the profession with disastrous consequences.

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

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