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HomeMedico-LegalCulpable homicide charge added to surgeon Peter Beale’s murder/fraud case

Culpable homicide charge added to surgeon Peter Beale’s murder/fraud case

An additional charge, this one of culpable homicide, has been added to the existing murder and fraud charges of paediatric surgeon Professor Peter Beale of Johannesburg, who appeared briefly in court on Tuesday (1 February).

Beale, 73, is accused of being responsible for the death of 10-year-old Zayyaan Sayed in October 2019 at Netcare's Park Lane Clinic, shortly after he performed what was meant to be a routine laparoscopic operation for reflux.

“Having intentionally misled the complainants (Sayed’s parents), into believing that the surgical intervention was necessary when in truth and in fact it was not, the accused knew that he was placing the life of the deceased at risk when it was not necessary to do so,” reads the indictment.

The fraud charge relates to the results of a distal oesophagal biopsy performed on Sayed before the surgery, reports News24.

As reported in MedicalBrief (11 December 2019), warrants of arrest were issued for Beale and his co-accused anaesthetist Dr Abdulhay Munshi after Zayyaan's lung collapsed shortly after the surgery. Munshi was shot six times and killed in September 2020 in what was suspected to be a hit.

According to another News24 report, not long after the nearly four-hour surgery Munshi took the boy’s father, Mohammadh Sayed, to the recovery area, where his disorientated son was kicking and moaning with half-opened eyes. The father was apparently told to hold his son's legs while Munshi unsuccessfully tried to get a tube into his chest.

The father said it was unacceptable that a parent was asked to assist a doctor in the resuscitation of his child. The boy was taken to the intensive care unit but died shortly afterwards and his father subsequently laid the charges.

After Zayyaan's death, Netcare launched an internal investigation into the incident, suspending both doctors, while the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) also launched an investigation after more families came forward with claims that their children had died during surgery by Beale, or had been left with permanent impediments.

In the latest, culpable homicide charge, it is alleged that 21-month-old Allisa Strydom was admitted to Mediclinic Morningside in July 2016 for the same procedure as Sayed and died that night after the procedure, reports TimesLIVE.

According to court papers, Allisa’s mother, Marelize Strydom, had told the medical team that her daughter had been ill with a cold/flu or bronchitis three weeks previously and had also undergone a previous operation on 31 May that year for a dilation of the oesophagus.

“The primary medical cause of the death of the deceased was noted as myocarditis in a person undergoing surgery,” the indictment read.

“Intra-operatively, an arterial haemorrhage was encountered. The impact of the blood loss during the operation was not documented. No request was made for an urgent haemoglobin level test nor was an intra-operative arterial blood gas test conducted. No efforts were made intra-operatively to exclude haemorrhagic shock.

“The anaesthesia was reversed and the deceased was extubated in theatre. An oral airway was placed and the deceased was breathing spontaneously, whereafter she was transferred to the recovery room,” reads the charge sheet.

Allisa then suffered bradycardia and cardiac arrest, and after a prolonged resuscitation was declared dead.

Beale is due to return to the High Court on 16 January 2023, when more than 40 witnesses are expected to be called,


News24 article – Paediatric surgeon Professor Peter Beale, accused of murder and fraud, back in court on Tuesday (Open access)


TimesLIVE article – Charge for toddler's death added to surgeon Peter Beale's murder and fraud case (Open access)


News24 article – Murder-accused paediatric surgeon Peter Beale charged in connection with another child's death (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Warrants of arrest issued for paediatric surgeon and anaesthetist


HPCSA probes 'magnitude' of negligence claims against paediatric surgeon


Surgeon's and anaesthetist's privileges withdrawn by following child's death



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