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State to appeal assisted suicide ruling

File Photo: Clyde Robinson

File Photo: Clyde Robinson

Published Apr 30, 2015


Pretoria - South Africa’s justice and health departments are set to appeal Thursday’s landmark ruling in the high court in Pretoria allowing a terminally ill man to end his life with the help of his doctor.

“The justice and health ministers will appeal the judgment as it has far reaching implications from a constitutional point of view and given its impact on the powers of the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] to prosecute,” justice department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said.

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Earlier on Thursday, the court ruled that a doctor be allowed to help Robin Stransham-Ford, a terminally ill prostate cancer patient, die.

In terms of the ruling, the doctor would not be prosecuted. Stransham-Ford had successfully argued his constitutional right to dignity was being infringed.

Euthanasia is illegal in South Africa.

“A substantive allocation for leave to appeal will be made on Monday when we get written reasons,” said Mhaga.

Mhaga said the order was “confined to this case only”, and would not be suspended pending the outcome of an application for leave to appeal so “the doctor can end his life but for future cases our appeal will be critical”.

The justice department said it was concerned about the interpretation of Thursday’s judgment and whether it could used as a precedent in other cases given that the country had no law regulating assisted suicide.

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