Professor Sean Davison allegedly assisted Justin Varian to commit suicide in 2015. File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Back in September, founder of euthanasia advocacy group Dignity SA Sean Davison was arrested on a charge of murder.

The 57-year-old was arrested at his home following the execution of a search warrant on a 2013 matter involving the death of 43-year-old Dr Anrich Burger who became a quadriplegic following a car accident.

In November another charge of murder was made against Davison.

The State alleges both murders were premeditated. In November 2013, Davidson was accused of killing quadriplegic Anrich Burger by administering a lethal dose of drugs. Two years later, 2015, he was accused of killing Justin Varian by placing a bag over his head and administering helium. 

Davison allegedly “assisted” Varian, who had motor neuron disease, to end his life on July 25, 2015. 

The South African born professor, first rose to infamy after he helped his mother end her life in New Zealand in 2010. He was sentenced to five months of house arrest.

Davison's September arrest came weeks after his organisation hosted a pro-euthanasia conference in Cape Town calling for the legalisation of the right by terminally ill patients to choose when to end their life.

Currently the practice is illegal in the country.

Nobel Peace laureate  Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has also been a vocal proponent of assisted death for a number of years, which he wrote about in an op-ed piece for the Washington Post on his 85th birthday in 2016.

"I hope I am treated with compassion and allowed to pass on to the next phase of life's journey in the manner of my choice... When my time comes, I want the option of an assisted death," Tutu wrote, sparking major controversy among religious groups and within medical and political circles.

In September 2018, Tutu issued an official statement regarding Davison's arrest.

The statement reads:

"Just as I have argued for compassion and fairness in life, I believe that terminally ill people should be treated with compassion and fairness when it comes to their death.

"This should include affording people who have reached the end-stages of life the right to choose how and when to leave Mother Earth. 

"I believe in the sanctity of life, and that death is part of life. Alongside the wonderful palliative care that exists, the choices available to the terminally ill should include dignified assisted death.

"It is a choice that I believe lawmakers should engage, enable and appropriately regulate."

Davison appeared in the Cape Town Magistrates Court on Monday April 29.

According to News24, Davison will now face a third charge of murder - that of Richard Holland in Constantia around November 8, 2015.

The case was postponed to May 24, and would take place in the Western Cape High Court. His bail of R20 000 was extended.

Cape Argus