Hospital convicted for unlawful transplants

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pretoria - The St Augustine's Hospital, also known as Netcare KwaZulu (Pty) Limited, has been convicted on charges mainly relating to illegal surgeries whereby human kidneys were illegally acquired and transplanted. 

According to the South African Police Service, the conviction of a hospital in respect of human tissue cases such as this one may be the first in the world. 

The accused company was found guilty of contravening the Human Tissue Act No. 65 of 1983. 

It had pleaded guilty to 102 counts on three main charges relating to illegal surgeries done between 2001 and 2003 at the St. Augustines Hospital in Durban whereby human kidneys were illegally acquired and transplanted. 

These charges include five counts of unlawfully acquiring and transplanting human kidneys by acquiring kidneys from five minors, five counts of unlawfully receiving payments for the acquisition of human kidneys from minors and 92 counts that they had received and paid money to other people/service providers. 

The company was sentenced at the Durban Regional Court to a fine and confiscations totaling R7 820 000, which includes a accumulative fine of R4 million, a confiscation order of R3.8 million after the court was advised that the accused company had derived benefits to this amount and further fines totaling R20 000 for at least ten counts under charges 1 and 2.

Summonses were also served on four surgeons, a doctor, two employees of Netcare and one translator in October 2010. The accused are expected to appear in the Durban Regional Court on 23 November 2010. 

Police spokesman, Colonel Vishnu Naidoo, said the project was a long, intricate, complex but fruitful one which was investigated by Warrant Officer K G Chetty (KG) and led by Captain Louis Helberg since 2003.