HPCSA suspends paediatric surgeon arrested for culpable homicide

Professor Peter Beale
Professor Peter Beale
Werner Beukes

Paediatric surgeon Dr Peter Beale, who was arrested for culpable homicide, has been suspended by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

His colleague and anaesthetist, Dr Abdullhay Munshi, who was also arrested on the same charges, will face a process.

According to HPCSA CEO Dr Raymond Billa: "Beale was placed on suspension by an Ad-Hoc Committee of the Medical and Dental Board on 10 December 2019, pending a full conduct inquiry later next year.

"The same process is being put in place for Dr Munshi, following the completion of the investigation into his matter too.

"A suspension hearing is to be held early January 2020," Billa said.

HPCSA spokesperson Daphney Chuma said in a statement that the regulatory body had received information regarding alleged unprofessional conduct by Beale and started an investigation. 

"Due to the seriousness of the complaints received, the HPCSA instituted a suspension hearing against Professor Beale," Chuma said. 

She added: "The HPCSA does not have any legislative mandate to conduct criminal investigations, therefore the current criminal investigations, including the arrests of health practitioners, falls outside its jurisdiction."

The HPCS's view is that allegations of this nature should be dealt with "in accordance with its ethical rules, norms and standards for practice well as applicable ethical codes of conduct e.g. the Hippocratic Oath as amended from time to time instead of being dealt with in terms of the criminal justice system," Chuma said.

Beale's suspension follows a complaint by businessman and father Mohammadh Sayed after his 10-year-old son, Zayyaan Sayed, died after the pair performed an operation on him earlier this year.

After Zayyaan's death, more families came forward with claims that their little ones had died under Beale's knife or were left with permanent impediments.

The situation became political when the EFF weighed in on the matter and wrote to the HPCSA to take action.

At the time, the HPCSA said it launched an investigation into the claims to determine the magnitude of the case.

This investigation included speaking to these families.

Speaking to News24 previously, HPCSA spokesperson Priscilla Sekhonyana said: "The primary aim is not to suspend the practitioner, but to ascertain the magnitude of the cases, this will then inform the direction to be considered.

"It is important to note that there are three main practitioners in the operation of the patient: the surgeon; the anaesthetist and the theatre nurse.

"Therefore, if the information is available to the HPCSA and it directs toward precautionary suspension on the part of the surgeon or the anaesthetist, then suspension regulations will be invoked."

News24 contacted Beale's lawyer for comment which will be added once received. 

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