Cape Town - Embattled cabinet minister Lindiwe Sisulu vehemently denied having secured medicine from Russia for ANC’s late Struggle icon Jessie Duarte, saying: “It’s all in my head... the medicine is in my head, not in my pocket.”
And for those who don’t believe her? “Go to hell,” she said.
Her comments came after she made headlines for saying: “I was invited to Russia, and while I was there I tried to get medication for her. I succeeded but arrived home too late.”
The South African Health Products and Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) said on Wednesday it was looking into the matter as it may be a possible violation of the Medicines Act.
“Sahpra has noted the numerous media articles on the statement made by Minister Sisulu having secured medicine for Jessie Duarte,” the authority said, adding that it is “looking into the reports in the media and is engaging with the minister’s office”.
According to Sahpra: “No person shall order any medicine from abroad for personal use unless Sahpra has granted the said person an authorisation in terms of Section 21 of the Medicines Act.”
The comment Sahpra took exception to was made outside the house of Duarte, the ANC Deputy Secretary-General who died on Sunday at the age of 68. Duarte succumbed to cancer.
“I had cancer, my brother had cancer, my husband passed away from cancer, so I wanted to go and learn and I have found a new treatment. I did not put it in my pocket, it’s in my head. I brought in my mind a new medicine that we could try on Jessie,” Sisulu told Weekend Argus.
“I didn’t put it in my bag as it’s administered by doctors, I’m not a doctor,” she said, adding that it was Russia’s minister of tourism who invited her there.
"I was trying to look at the efficacy of their (cancer) medication as they have an excellent facility there, all based on nuclear. I’m a cancer specialist myself, so I needed verification of the effects and side-effects of the medication to see if it works.“
Sisulu added that the media misinterpreted her comments outside Duarte’s house.
“Somebody came to me while I was in grief. I didn’t sit down and write a thesis, I was speaking my mind. So anyone who is misinterpreting it is doing it deliberately and I will not entertain it, they can go to hell, they can go to the courts if they want to, I don’t care,” Sisulu said.
She added: “I’m on a campaign to make sure we can get over cancer, I’ve been there, my whole family has been there. I wanted to refer Jessie to that facility, but it was too late.”