Family of child who died after surgery in court to witness doctors in dock

Dr Peter Gordon Beale has been accused of culpable homicide.
Dr Peter Gordon Beale has been accused of culpable homicide.
Image: Supplied

Paediatric surgeon Prof Peter Beale and anaesthetist Dr Abdulhay Munshi, accused of culpable homicide, handed themselves over to the Hillbrow police in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning.

Arrest warrants for the two were issued a week ago. The warrants state that the pair will be charged with culpable homicide relating to the death of Zayyaan Sayed. The child died in October at Netcare's Park Lane Clinic, hours after Beale performed what was meant to be a routine laparoscopic operation to stop reflux.

On Tuesday morning, members of the child's family and lawyers attended the matter at the Johannesburg magistrate's court. 

Meanwhile, the SA Society of Anaesthesiologists (Sasa) on Friday questioned the action against Munshi, one of its members.

“As far as we are aware, there has never before been a warrant of arrest issued for a health care practitioner in a criminal matter involving medical negligence allegations or culpable homicide. In those instances where it was deemed necessary to institute criminal proceedings against health care practitioners, their attendance at court has been secured by warning or summons.”

Natalie Zimmelman, its CEO, said: “Any loss of life is tragic. It’s even more so when a child dies. Everyone affected by this death has Sasa’s deep sympathy and empathy. The family, public and the professions want to determine exactly how this tragedy occurred. To do so demands transparent, exhaustive and fair investigation that will give us the facts and enable us to do everything possible to prevent something similar happening again.

“This process is mandated to be undertaken and conducted by regulatory hearings by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). As far as Sasa is aware this process is well under way.”

It also voiced concern that Munshi was facing unilateral suspension from clinical practice at a group facility, “where processes and regulatory compliance with investigatory findings are yet to be interrogated”.

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