Body-parts accused pleads guilty

A KwaZulu-Natal woman accused of stealing a placenta pleaded guilty to the crime at the Durban Regional Court on Monday.

Hloniphile Sokhela was charged with theft and contravening the Human Tissue Act.

The mother of two stole a placenta from a storage room at Parklands Hospital on October 6.

In a statement to the court Sokhela said she used the placenta as a good luck charm. She said she cut the placenta into small pieces and put them into bottles and sold them for financial gain.

“I confirm that my actions were wrong and I am sorry for my actions,” she said in the statement.

Sokhela was sentenced to one year imprisonment, suspended for five years.

Magistrate Sharon Marks said: “Your guilty plea is indicative of your remorse.”

Marks urged lawmakers to address the “low” maximum penalty of a one-year jail term that courts can impose on those caught dealing in body parts.

Handing down sentence, Marks said: “The court is amazed at how low the penalty is for dealing in human tissue, especially in South Africa where human tissue can be used for muti-purposes.”

“This Act is meant to be a severe deterrent against would-be wrongdoers, especially in South Africa where human trafficking is rife,” she said.—Sapa

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