Reports Pertunia Ratsatsi

Reports Pertunia Ratsatsi

A 29-year-old man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for performing illegal abortions on two women.

Last week Yusuff Sekamaya, a Ugandan, appeared in the Potchefstroom regional court and pleaded guilty on two charges of contravening the Abortion Act.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on each charge, of which two years on each charge was suspended.

Police said Sekamaya was arrested on January 21 for operating an illegal abortion clinic in the town's central business district. He appeared in the Potchefstroom magistrate's court on January 22 and the case was postponed to last Wednesday to the regional court. Sekamaya pleaded guilty to the two counts and was sentenced the same day.

Inspector Kevin Pretorius, who led the investigation, said this week: "The arrest came after social workers at the local hospital brought to the attention of the police that eight cases of post-abortion complications had been reported there within a week.

"One of the women had to have her womb removed because of complications."

The services of the so-called "professor" and "doctor" were widely advertised on lampposts and pamphlets, which were handed out on the streets.

For R1200, Sekamaya promised clients a good service, depending on how far the pregnancy was.

"He operated from two buildings in the CBD, advertising himself as a doctor, professor, herbalists and traditional healer," said Pretorius.

The "clinics" were regular offices with no medical equipment. They were filthy with a bad odour in the air.

The pregnant women who wanted their pregnancies terminated were given medication to induce abortions. Although they were charged about R1200, Sekamaya bought the tablets for R5 in Uganda, said Pretorius.

He said Sekamaya had no medical qualifications, but a certificate as an auto mechanic.

The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act No 92 of 1996 Section (2)(1) reads: "The termination of a pregnancy may only be carried out by a medical practitioner during the first 12 weeks of the gestation period of the pregnancy, which may also be carried out by a registered midwife who has completed the prescribed training course.

"After 12 weeks the pregnancy can be terminated if continued pregnancy poses a risk of injury to the woman's physical or mental health. If the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest or the pregnancy would significantly affect the social or economic circumstances of the woman."

Abortion was legalised in 1997.