Euthanasia-supporting Dignity SA executive member, Sean Davison, is facing a new charge of premeditated murder for the death of Justin Varian in 2015. According to a Weekend Argus report, Davison rose to infamy after he helped his mother end her life in New Zealand in 2010. The latest charge was added after Davison allegedly “assisted” Varian, who had motor neuron disease, to end his life on July 25, 2015.
The report says he was arrested at his home in Pinelands in September for the 2013 death of his friend Anrich Burger, who had become a quadriplegic after a car crash. According to that charge sheet, he “administered a lethal amount of drugs to the quadriplegic deceased” at or near the Radisson Hotel in Granger Bay on 2 November, 2013.
The report quotes Davison as saying that Varian had begged him for advice on how to die and also had a video of Varian expressing his wish to die. Davison said that he was unable to answer questions on the additional charges.
“I do have a story to tell. I am going to give a voice to something that needs to be heard, something that is crying out to be heard. But now is not the time. (due to legal advice),” said Davison.
Davidson’s arrest and appearance at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Friday has sparked a fresh debate on whether South Africa should legalise euthanasia, says a Weekend Argus report.
The State alleges both murders were premeditated. But co-founder of Dignity SA Professor Willem Landman said Davidson’s arrest raised speculation around the timing since the alleged offences happened five years ago. “What makes one suspicious is why would a case that is five-years-old suddenly comes to court. Why did the NPA not act at the time? The first case he was arrested on was publicly announced, so I speculated that something triggered that,” he said.
The report says South African courts are set to hear two euthanasia cases – the first being that of Johannesburg doctor Sue Walter, 43, who together with her patient, Dieter Harck, 68, are seeking permission for assisted dying next year.
Landman said the next priority will be on the Walter/Harck court case expected to be heard at the South Gauteng High Court by March that seeks to challenge the laws that criminalises assisted deaths. Walter was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and Harck suffering from motor neuron disease.
The report says this case is similar to that of Robin Stransham-Ford who died just hours before the Cape Town High Court ruled in favour of his application, only for the Supreme Court of Appeal to overturn the decision.
But founder of an anti-euthanasia group, Euthanasia Exposed, Philip Rosenthal said a vast majority of South Africans were still opposed to legalising assisted deaths. “Euthanasia is not legal in South Africa so any action is classified as murder at the moment and we are arguing to keep it that way,” he said. “By advocating against it we are advocating for the sanctity of all human life and what we have seen is that euthanasia is impossible to control.”