Sunday, 14 April, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalCancer patients granted interdict to keep dismissed oncologist at Cape hospital

Cancer patients granted interdict to keep dismissed oncologist at Cape hospital

The Western Cape High Court issued a provisional interdict this week to keep in place the medical privileges of Dr Louis Kathan, described by his patients as a “miracle worker”, at Vincent Pallotti Hospital, after he was dismissed from the Life Healthcare group for harassment.

Daily Maverick reports that 17 cancer patients were behind the interdict – all saying that Kathan had “saved their lives”.

The interdict will retain Kathan’s admission and practising privileges at the hospital until the decision to dismiss him as the chief medical officer for the group can be subjected to judicial review.

Craig Koekemoer, business operations executive for Life Healthcare Holdings, said in papers before the court that the professional staff at the hospital’s radiotherapy unit had very scarce skills and were highly sought after.

He said two of the staff in this unit had resigned, citing Kathan’s behaviour as the reason. He said there was “strong and alarming evidence” that Kathan was harassing employees.

In the first instance, Kathan used a racial slur, and in the second, a homophobic word. Koekemoer said Kathan was accused of “making a myriad statements regarding his fetish for blondes, lap dances, and various allusions to strip clubs”.

Kathan admitted the statements, but said his intention was not to harass anyone, impair the dignity of anybody, or cause them harm.

After his dismissal, he lodged an internal appeal, which was dismissed. He also filed a complaint saying he was being harassed by those who complained about him.

“While litigation was pending … Life Healthcare appointed a chaperone to accompany Kathan,” Koekemoer said.

“The chaperone has not been entirely successful in protecting the radiation therapy unit’s staff, as Kathan had threatened and intimidated them,” he added.

Kathan has also “solicited support” from colleagues, subordinates, patients and service providers, with Life Healthcare receiving 68 letters of support for him.

The dispute between Kathan and the Life Healthcare group has been sent for private mediation, which was not successful and is not before the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Kathan is suing the hospital for breach of contract. He brought a similar application to that of his patients, but this was dismissed by the court for lack of urgency.

Patient testimonials

In more than 100 pages of affidavits, 14 patients expressed their support for Kathan, saying the news that he would be leaving Vincent Pallotti was “devastating”, as was the further complication that he currently can’t work at any other hospital.

The patients’ legal team, Advocate Anton Katz SC, instructed by attorney Carlo Timothy, argued that when private institutions make decisions that have public effects, these decisions are also subject to the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act and the Constitution, and that the patients should have been allowed to be heard.


Daily Maverick article – Cancer patients win interdict to keep dismissed ‘miracle worker’ oncologist at Vincent Pallotti despite his ‘fetishes’ (Open access)


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