A Durban couple has pleaded guilty in the Durban Regional Court to operating an illegal abortion clinic in Dr Pixley KaSeme (West) Street. According to a Daily News report, they were arrested in a police sting operation in December.
Ahmed Katabazi, 48, a Ugandan citizen, and his wife, Buyisiwe Vivian Sosibo, 40, whom he married in Durban in February 2010, were represented in court by Logan Padayachee. The couple were found guilty of managing an illegal abortion facility/ termination of pregnancy (TOP) business in West Walk Arcade under various names: Dr Adam, Dr Solomon and Dr Ndawo.
The court found that they were not legally authorised or registered to conduct TOP/abortions at their clinic. The court further found that both had benefited financially from conducting unlawful terminations at their clinic. The report says Katabazi and Sosibo were charged with five counts of contravening sections of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act. In December, the couple unlawfully and intentionally dispensed medication to a customer, whose name has been withheld by the newspaper to respect her privacy (count 1).
The report says on the same day, they also attempted to perform a TOP on an undercover policewoman by dispensing medication which induces a TOP (count 2).
They also terminated a pregnancy or allowed the TOP at a facility that was not approved for such medical procedures (count 3).
The couple were not registered medical practitioners or registered as health professionals to practise within South Africa in terms of the Health Professions Act (count 4).
They were also charged under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act for acquisition, possession or use of proceeds of unlawful activities. They were found in possession of the R2,000 handed to them by police to conduct the TOP (count 5).
The report says Padayachee read out their guilty plea in which the couple admitted operating an illegal abortion clinic and giving their customers tablets to take orally and by self-insertion into the vagina.
Prosecutor Ronitha Singh told the court that Katabazi had a previous conviction for contravening the Road Traffic Act.
Magistrate P Singh adjourned the matter to 2 March for sentencing.
KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo has commended the SA Police Service for the arrest.
In his reaction to the arrest, MEC Dhlomo urged women to remember that those who choose to terminate a pregnancy have a Constitutional right to do so in a safe environment, where they will not be subjected to judgment and stigma. “We would like to commend the SAPS for the great work that they have done, which has culminated in the Durban couple being found guilty. For people to conduct abortion, without authorisation, is illegal. This Department has gone all out, creating anti-illegal abortion awareness, staging marches and removing stickers that promote this practice. We commend the work done by our police. It must alert the public that, if anybody has any pressure to terminate a pregnancy, the right place to go is a clinic or a hospital. That is where you will find people who are trained to provide this service. Do not go to a backstreet abortion facility. Many people who have gone there have not come back to tell the story. They have died. So, we are really concerned as the Department of Health.”
The dangers of illegal abortion include death; severe bleeding; uterine perforation; tearing of the cervix; severe damage to the genitals and abdomen; internal infection of the abdomen and blood poisoning; and increased risk of infertility.
According to the 2012 Saving Mothers report, in South Africa 186 women died of a septic miscarriage in public health facilities; 23% of which were caused by unsafe or illegal abortions. And, a study by the South African Medical Research Council in 2010 also reported that 49 % of abortions are undergone by young people between the ages of 13 and 19 years and that these take place outside a hospital or clinic.
Since the department intensified its Anti-Illegal Abortion Campaign in 2015, the number of women presenting to health facilities in KZN with complications after botched illegal abortions has significantly decreased. The department measures its success by judging with the increase of the number of women who come forward for legal termination of pregnancy (2013 = 8 058); (2014 = 9 785); (2015= 10 152); (2016 = 14 209).
There has also been a significant reduction in the number of women reporting in the facilities with incomplete abortions compared to the start of the campaigns. In 2014, the number stood at 10 786, and was reduced to 10 152 in 2015; and 8 633 in 2016. There has also been a marked increase in the number of facilities offering termination of pregnancies -from 14 in 2015 to 42 in 2017. There has also been a big decrease in miscarriage-related maternal deaths over the past 3 years in KZN, compared to the previous triennium 2011-2013 =53, 2014-2016 =27 (2015 =13), (2016 =5).
The KZN Health Department now enjoys the benefit of being the preferred custodian for valuable and trustworthy information when it comes to issues of promotion of safe TOPs.
[link url="https://www.iol.co.za/dailynews/illegal-abortion-clinic-plea-13380805"]Daily News report[/link]
[link url="http://www.kznhealth.gov.za/mediarelease/2018/KZN-health-MEC-commends-SAPS-for-arrest-of-illegal-abortion-practitioners21022018.htm"]KZN Health Department material[/link]