Durban doctor arrested for human tissue sales

A 71-year-old Durban doctor and a 29-year-old woman were arrested on Friday for their involvement in the international smuggling of human tissue, police reported.

Senior Superintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht said the woman was the regional coordinator for organ transplants at the city’s St Augustine’s hospital and the doctor worked part-time for the same unit.

The couple were set to appear in court later on Friday, and were arrested during an early-morning raid on their offices at the hospital.

Martins-Engelbrecht said that by mid-morning police were still searching the offices for any documentation that may assist with their investigation.

Trafficking in human tissue and body parts made headlines last year when it was discovered South Africa was a major destination for human body parts.

The South African leg of the investigation, which is being conducted by the Durban commercial crime investigation unit and the crime intelligence unit, in collaboration with the Department of Health, has been running for more than a year.

Police are probing claims that people, mostly in Brazil, were offered money for their organs, mainly kidneys.

They were brought to a private hospital or hospitals in South Africa, where the organs were transplanted to buyers.

The European Parliament last year passed new rules to regulate how Europeans can donate human tissue and cells in an effort to prevent the illegal trade of human organs, blood and other body parts.

In December South African police made headway when numerous arrests were made.

A 58-year-old Durban man arrested on suspicion of involvement in an international human organ trafficking network pleaded guilty to 38 charges under the Human Tissue Act.

Martins-Engelbrecht said the Durban Magistrate’s Court sentenced Roderick Frank Kimberley to six years’ imprisonment suspended for five years on certain conditions.

In Kimberley, a South African was also ordered to pay a fine of R250 000.

Two other men linked to the syndicate were arrested in Durban.

Agania Robel, a 42-year-old Israeli, was found guilty and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment suspended for five years, or a R5 000 fine.
He paid the fine and left the country.

The remaining accused, 49-year-old Meir Shushan, a South African of Israeli descent who lives in Johannesburg, is currently out on R15 000 bail. He is due to appear again in court in February.—Sapa

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