Sean Davison
Sean Davison

Assisted suicide advocate faces third murder charge, case heading to High Court

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Apr 30, 2019

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Cape Town - Assisted suicide advocate Professor Sean Davison is facing a third charge of premeditated murder.

DignitySA founder Davison, 57, appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court, where he heard he would be charged with the murder of Constantia sportsman Richard Holland, who died on November 8, 2015.

The State alleges that Davison administered a lethal dose of drugs to Holland.

The case has been postponed to May 24.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said: “The matter has been postponed for a date to transfer the matter to the high court and an indictment.”

Davison’s other two charges are linked to the death of his friend Dr Anrich Burger and Justin Varian.

Burger, who was a quadriplegic following a car crash, died on November 2, 2013, in Granger Bay, and Varian, who had a motor neuron disease, died on July 25, 2015.

Davison was arrested in connection with Burger’s death at his Pinelands home in September last year. He was released on R20 000 bail.

During bail proceedings it was heard that Davison was sentenced to five months of house arrest in New Zealand for helping his mother end her life.

DignitySA executive member Professor Willem Landman said transferring the matter was a good thing.

“At the high court level we know that much more in depth legal engagement might happen than at the lower courts. However, this will mean, if found guilty of murder, Davison may face a lengthier sentence of imprisonment.”

Landman said the implementation of the prescribed minimum sentence may also come into play.

He made reference to the case of Doctor Alby Hartmann who was handed a one-year sentence that was wholly suspended for helping end his father’s life. The case dated back to 1974.

“People choose to be assisted to die. With the minimum sentence Davison is unlikely to get the same sentence as Dr Hartmann. There is no evil intent,” said Landman.

He said it was time the law developed by decriminalising suicide or suicide attempt and abortions.

“No court has ruled on assisted suicide and Parliament hasn't changed legislation; it’s a pity. Sean Davison is a victim here. All rights are recognised in some way or another, but not when it comes to dying people. If suicide is no longer a crime why doesn't the common law change so that assisted suicide is also not a crime?”

Landman said he was hoping that an application made at the North Gauteng High Court by Dieter Harck, 70, who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in June 2013, was heard and concluded soon.

He said if the court ruled in Harck’s favour then it could have an impact on Davison’s criminal case.


zodidi,[email protected]

Cape Argus

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