Boeremag accused to face possible axing as a doctor

Tongue lashing for shocking treatment of would-be asylum seeker. Picture: Ekaterina Bolovtsova/Pexels

Tongue lashing for shocking treatment of would-be asylum seeker. Picture: Ekaterina Bolovtsova/Pexels

Published Jul 11, 2024


One of the Boeremag accused who was sentenced in 2013 but released on parole seven years later, Dr Lets Pretorius, turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in a bid not to face possible axing from the medical profession.

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) gave notice to Pretorius to appear before a disciplinary hearing in lieu of him practising as a doctor, although he has a criminal record for treason and other charges.

The aim of the hearing is to strike his name from the HPCSA roll.

But Pretorius recently asked the court to issue an interim order, preventing the hearing from going ahead, pending a review application by him to overturn the decision to hold the inquiry.

He cited numerous reasons as to why he should not face a hearing, which include that the proceedings are dragging on, which is prejudicial to him, and he cited the right to earn a living as a medical doctor.

But Judge Soraya Hassim turned down his application, which means that he will have to face the hearing. Among her reasons for not granting the order is that the HPCSA, in terms of the law, has the right to hold the disciplinary proceedings.

She also commented that although Pretorius said he is being prejudiced by the proceedings taking so long, he is still practising as a medical doctor. Thus, she said, the fact that the matter is dragging on is, in fact, to the advantage of Pretorius.

Regarding his argument that he has the right to earn an income through his medical profession, the judge said if it turns out that his name is struck from the roll, it does not prevent him from making a living by other means.

Pretorius was sentenced in 2013, alongside his three sons and a host of other accused.

Among the charges on which he was convicted, was that he and others prepared the home-made bomb that was due to be placed to injure or kill then-president Nelson Mandela in 2002 while he was on his way to open a school in Bolobedu, Limpopo.

Pretorius served about seven of his 20-year jail term before he was released on parole.

One of the reasons cited by the HPCSA for the disciplinary hearing taking so long to get off the ground is the fact that when the wheels were set in motion, Pretorius was still in jail.

The disciplinary proceedings stem from a complaint to the HPCSA that the applicant was guilty of unprofessional conduct in that he was serving a sentence of imprisonment.

Judge Hassim remarked that she trudged through the review application and this application to locate the supporting facts, if any, in either of the applications.

She said Pretorius has scarcely revealed facts to support his claims that the decision (to hold the hearing) was impeachable on the grounds contended by him.

In March 2016, (while Pretorius was still serving his jail time) it was directed that a disciplinary committee must hold a disciplinary inquiry into his alleged unprofessional conduct.

Due to his incarceration, the HPCSA was unable to secure his attendance at a disciplinary hearing. Resultantly, the inquiry could not get off the ground. Steps to hold the disciplinary inquiry resumed after his release.

One of the applicant’s grievances is that the HPCSA has unreasonably delayed the inquiry. He asserted that the unreasonable delay was evidence of vexatiousness. In this regard, Pretorius said he was never heard before the decision to haul him before an inquiry was made.

It emerged that the Manager: Records at the HPCSA learned of the applicant’s conviction and sentence and in June 2015, whilst he was incarcerated, she lodged a complaint that his incarceration constituted unprofessional conduct.

The complaint was sent to the address the medical watchdog had on record for him and he was required to provide an explanation as to the complaint. As he was in jail at the time, an investigator at the HPCSA handed the letter to the applicant personally at the Zonderwater Prison, where he was being held.

Judge Hassim said the complaint thus did come to his attention. The hearing was meanwhile postponed on several occasions in light of this application.

She said the applicant wants to be protected from being suspended from practice or having his name struck from the roll of medical practitioners if found guilty of unprofessional conduct. However, the disciplinary inquiry, which is the act the applicant wishes to interdict, is not unlawful, nor is the imposition of a penalty if he is found guilty of unprofessional conduct.

“The applicant is not entitled in law to protection from lawful conduct,” she said in turning down the application.

Pretoria News

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