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Disappointment was evident on everyone’s faces, when the health professions council committee chairwoman postponed the case of abortion doctor Melusi Amod for the sixth time on Saturday.
The mother of one of the doctor’s alleged victims broke down and walked out of the hearing as Health Professions Council of SA committee chairwoman Joan Adams allowed another postponement in the case that has dragged on for more than three years.
Said Adams: “In the interests of justice we decided, with great difficulty, to grant a further postponement.” She quoted laws in which the need for consultation on cases as serious and complicated as Amod’s was required.
The committee had taken into consideration that the doctor’s legal representative, Jongikhaya Gwe, was not familiar with the case, having only been given instructions the day before. But Adams did not grant the postponement without first giving the respondent and his lawyer a dressing down, pointing out that all the postponements had been due to Amod’s lack of co-operation.
Amod, she said, was obviously using delaying tactics to derail justice. “He hasn’t been entirely honest, and has done nothing much to ensure his lawyers are adequately prepared on all six occasions.”
Almost every time “he had brought representatives who he had consulted no more than two days before he was due to appear... and we have bent over backwards to accommodate him”.
Gwe had cited the need to respect his client’s constitutional right to fair representation when requesting the postponement, but Adams noted that his was not the only right at stake. “His right is not absolute. The HPCSA, witnesses, expert witnesses, and the public also have a right to see justice fulfilled.”
Amod had been hauled before the committee for charges stemming from, among others, illegally terminating a 20-year-old’s pregnancy, whose uterus he perforated, leaving parts of the foetus inside.
He is accused of not having followed procedure to assess the size and position of the uterus and the six-month pregnancy, nor did he prepare the cervix for the evacuation of the products of conception.
Another patient on whom Amod had performed a hysterectomy without her consent was also at the hearing. Her mother, who requested anonymity, said Amod had been known as “Dr Khumalo” when he performed the procedure on her daughter, and he had disappeared after the complaint was lodged.
Pro forma complainant Charles Lamola said Amod had also assumed a “Dr Molefe” alias before surfacing as an employee of the Polokwane Hospital soon after. He had no known qualifications as a gynaecologist or obstetrician, Lamola said.
In requesting that the case not be postponed, Lamola said: “Postponement is an indulgence, not a right.”
Adams had before accused Amod of making a mockery of the hearings, the cost of which exceeds R100 000.