[LISTEN] What does South African law say about assisted suicide?

Founder of right-to-die organisation Dignity South Africa (DignitySA) Sean Davison has appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court in relation to the death of sportsman Richard Holland in Constantia in 2015.

He faces a premeditated murder charge and has been accused of administering a lethal amount of drugs to Holland.

While he maintains that he has not committed any offence, what does South African law say about assisted suicide?

John Maytham spoke to executive committee member of DignitySA and founding CEO of Ethics SA - Prof Willem Landman to find out more.

He says one may not be guilty of a crime if they supply somebody with a means to commit suicide.

Assisting in suicide in a specific and direct way is a criminal offence, so is euthanasia but it is a little more complicated than that...

Sean Davison, Executive committee member - DignitySA

The Supreme Court of Appeal in 2017 said it depends on the facts - whether one is guilty of a crime if you supply somebody with a means to commit suicide. If there is a break in a causal chain between supplying the means and the other person taking an autonomous decision to self-administer those means, then one may not be guilty of a crime.

Sean Davison, Executive committee member - DignitySA

The medical practitioner should not encourage you, prescribe. It is a grey area, the practitioner may know it is your intention but may have a legitimate reason to prescribe those specific drugs to you.

Click on the link below to hear the full conversation...


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