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The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) has found David Sello of Potchefstroom guilty on all 26 counts brought against him - and revoked his medical licence. The final hearing was held in Boksburg on Sunday. 

This followed Health-e’s investigation into the doctor’s gruesome actions which aired on eNCA’s current affairs programme Checkpoint in 2018.

 Among his many victims was a one-year-old girl who Sello performed a skin graft on, a grandmother who died after her legs were slashed open and a man whose urinary system was damaged in Sello’s rooms. 

Making his presentation at the hearing, prosecuting advocate Meshack Mapholisa told the HPSCA committee that because all counts against Sello were aggravating, the committee should impose a fair sentence that would satisfy the public, including removing Sello from the register of practitioners, and banning him from ever practising as a doctor again. 

“He should be stopped from coming near any [more] patients,” Mapholisa argued.

But Sello’s legal representative Raphepheng Mataka said his client should be punished as to not repeat the same mistakes again but maintained that Sello was not a candidate to have his licence revoked.   

“I plead with the committee that Sello be given a chance,” Mataka asked.

According to Mataka, the committee had failed to find his client guilty of incompetence. “Therefore, the committee can impose any other penalty but [can] not revoke his licence to practise as a medical doctor,” he said. “The punishment is unfair. This means no doctor shall make a mistake because their licence would be revoked.” 

But Sello’s “mistakes” cost many their lives. 

Sello’s victims 

Among the 26 counts Sello was found guilty of, is Mbali Matlou, a one-year-old girl who died after Sello and his unqualified assistant performed complex surgery on her while she was under general anaesthetic  in his rooms in Ikageng.
Baby Mbali was pronounced dead at her home after returning from the skin graft surgery. According to HPCSA president Dr Kgosi Letlape, Sello was not qualified to perform the procedure. 
 
“Skin graft is not supposed to be done in side rooms, because it’s an extensive procedure which needs to be done in a fully equipped theatre,” said Letlape on an interview with Health-e News in March.

Families attending the hearing on Sunday told Health-e they were pleased with the guilty verdict. 

“It was hectic but I feel very great in a way that I don’t even know what to say,” Mbali’s mother Maggie Matlou said. She believes she has fought for her child until she found closure. “I am healed now I know that my child is resting in peace as of today,” she added.

Sophie Mulaudzi, whose husband died at the hands of Sello, said she still feels the pain of losing her husband although the verdict has brought her some peace. 

“My husband is gone and will never return. I am struggling with raising the kids alone now, but above all, I am happy with today’s decision,” she told Health-e. 

Mulaudzi believes the HPCSA’s decision has saved a lot of lives in the community because no one else will go to Sello’s practice.

Sello and his wife, a social worker, operated from the same premises. She also disclosed to the committee that her husband had once been admitted to a psychiatric hospital. 

When the committee offered Sello a chance to apologise to the families, he said: “The stories are painful and emotional especially the one of Mr Ditibane. It is very difficult to forget what he is [going through]. May God and Mr Ditibane forgive me, I don’t know what went wrong, I am sorry.” 
Ditabane was a patient who suffered considerable damage to his urinary system after Sello performed a procedure in his room to unblock his prostate. 

Sello said he was sorry about the outcomes of all the cases and said he understood that some patients had died and “nothing said can bring them back”. 

According to the committee, the full judgement will follow no later than 16 August and Sello will have 21 days to appeal the decision of the committee from the date.

Health-e News