A woman medical doctor, who was assaulted and badly injured by a dead patient’s brother in a Durban hospital in front of patients and staff, asked the court to be merciful and not to imprison the man, reports Sunday Tribune.
Instead, she asked that he be convicted on the grievous bodily harm charge, but to not receive direct imprisonment as punishment for his wrongdoing.
The matter was finalised in the Durban Regional Court this week, and concerned the 24 February 2020, attack on Dr Ayesha Tariq, which resulted in her having to undergo facial surgery and being out of work for nine months.
Zunaid Bux, the 43-year-old accused in the case, had blamed Tariq for the death of his sister, Somaya Bibi Sayed. In asking the court to show some mercy to Bux, Tariq said she took into consideration that the attack occurred shortly after her patient Sayed had died at the hospital, and Bux’s personal circumstances.
The incident had scarred Tariq emotionally and humiliated her as the assault took place at the Lenmed Nu-shifa Hospital.
Bux entered into a plea-and-sentencing agreement with the State, and pleaded guilty to the charge, expressing remorse for his actions, and also giving Tariq a written apology. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment – wholly suspended for five years – provided he does not commit a similar offence in that period, according to the Sunday Tribune.
Bux had shared a close bond with his sister, who had told her brother on the day in question about the “simple procedure” she was having at the hospital. She said she would be discharged the following day. Tariq, a specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist, was performing the procedure.
Later that day, Bux was called by his brother-in-law to go to the hospital as “something had happened to his sister”, but he hadn’t given more details. When he learned his sister had died, he became frantic and emotional. He had shouted for the doctor, and when Tariq indicated she had performed the procedure, Bux asked why she had killed his sister. He then punched her in her face.
In his plea statement, Bux agreed his actions were wrong and he was responsible for Tariq’s injuries. He said he had two failed marriages, two sons, earned a meagre salary from transporting schoolchildren, was a volunteer at his mosque and a for a community-based organisation.
Previously he had suffered three heart attacks and had a quadruple heart-bypass in 2018. He said he was on chronic medication and receiving professional treatment for depression and anxiety. He said assaulting a woman went against the principles of his upbringing, and his prosecution was a “harsh and severe” lesson.
Prosecutor Ronitha Singh said Bux’s offences were a violation of Tariq’s physical and psychological integrity, and that the incident caused her to become fearful of her workplace. It had affected her professional profile and, during her nine months of recovery, she was unable to attend to her patients and lost income.
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