Dr Anil Ramdhin, a gynaecologist who performed the operation that allegedly led to actress Zoleka Helesi’s death, has escaped suspension after a procedural debate at a Health Professions Council of SA hearing in Cape Town.
Following complaints, a full disciplinary inquiry had not yet been scheduled and the HPCSA hearing was meant to decide if he should be suspended in the interim.
“On a technicality, Dr Anil Ramdhin is now allowed to continue practising despite his long history of misconduct,” Dr Caro Nel, a gynaecologist who attended the hearing, is quoted as saying in a Sunday Times report.
The report notes Ramdhin has been suspended from the South African medical roll twice, and was struck off the British roll in 2006 after the General Medical Council said he had shown “a flagrant disregard for his responsibilities”. He has previously been fined for practising as a gynaecologist when only registered as a GP.
The latest attempt to have him suspended follows a complaint to the HPCSA by Helesi’s friend, Baxter Theatre CEO Lara Foot. Helesi (48) died in December after complications linked to a hysterectomy at Rondebosch Medical Centre in May. The surgery followed a cervical cancer diagnosis.
HPCSA spokesperson Priscilla Sekhonyana the complaint related to a patient, Zoleka Helesi, who was diagnosed with cancer of the womb by Ramdhin and was taken to theatre for a total hysterectomy.
Sekhonyana said: “Dr Ganesh Anil Ramdhin was formerly known as Dr Ganesh Anil Anirudhra. The complaint is the patient was diagnosed with cancer of the womb by respondent and went to the theatre for a total hysterectomy. Inquiry is based on contravention of Ethical Rule 21 (a), (Performance of Professional Acts), which states that a professional shall perform except in an emergency, only a professional act – for which he or she is adequately educated, trained and sufficiently experienced.”
Ramdhin qualified as a gynaecologist in 2019 after a 10-year dispute over his qualifications with Sefako Makgatho Health Science University in Ga-Rankuwa, Gauteng, notes the Sunday Times report.
The Women’s Legal Centre is giving legal advice and assistance during the HPCSA processes to ensure that “the interests of (Foot and Helesi) are respected and protected”. Ramdhin claims the media is “vilifying” him.
Ramdhin’s lawyers poked holes in the health authority’s case and alleged officials bungled the process, according to a Weekend Argus report. Jerry Mayaba, who represents Ramdhin, listed each procedural issue he said the council’s board chairperson and registrar failed to take into account before forming the committee. He alleged that the HPCSA bowed to media pressure to take action after waiting several months without acting on the complaint filed in July.
He said his client was served one day short of the required 15-day notice to appear before the committee which flouted regulations. He also argued that there was no paper trail that allowed the HPCSA’s Kgolane Magabane to act as evidence leader, which was also flawed.
“The complaint by the complainant is dated 7 July 2020 and was sent to the registrar by 9 July and the regulations state that the registrar should within three days ask the complainant to address details of the complaint in writing but the affidavit from the complainant is dated 8 February,” he said.
“The registrar does virtually nothing and time passed until November when Carte Blanche (the investigative journalism television series) comes knocking and then to save face the registrar appears and says they will institute steps. Our submission is that it is irregular, unfair and goes against the grain of fair administration of justice. It paints a picture of an institution that has no regard for its own regulation.”
Magabane said: “My submission is the notice went out and it was within the time frames. All that the chairperson failed to do was to consult with regard to date and the time for the serving of the notice.”
Angry Khayelitsha residents have taken matters into their own hands, shutting the gates of the Khayelitsha Medical Centre following allegations of a bogus doctor (Ramdhin) operating as a gynaecologist at the facility, according to a Cape Times report. Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) chair Ndithini Thyido said that concerned residents had closed the centre. “The community of Khayelitsha is taken aback by these allegations against this doctor. The KDF will be conveying a meeting with the doctor and the management of the centre on the issue early next week,” he said.
Lynn Moonsamy of the Rondebosch Medical Centre where the doctor is said to also be operating said they were aware of the allegations and “the matter is currently under review by the relevant regulatory authorities.”
HPCSA spokesperson Priscilla Sekhonyana said: “Dr Ganes Anil Ramdhin was formerly known as Dr Ganes Anirudh Anirudra. The complaint is the patient was diagnosed with cancer of the womb by Respondent and went to the theatre for a total hysterectomy. Inquiry is based on contravention of Ethical Rule 21 (a), (Performance of Professional Acts), which states that a professional shall perform except in an emergency, only a professional act – for which he or she is adequately educated, trained and sufficiently experienced. Precautionary Suspension Hearing has been scheduled for the 8th February 2021.”
According to the report, SAPS Western Cape spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa said they were yet to receive a complaint on the matter.
The Khayelitsha Medical Centre did not respond to questions sent to them by the time of going to print.
[link url="https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times/news/2021-02-21-doc-with-long-history-of-misconduct-avoids-suspension-bereaved-seek-answers/"]Full Sunday Times report (Restricted access)[/link]
[link url="https://www.iol.co.za/weekend-argus/news/bogus-gynaes-suspension-hearing-halted-as-hpcsa-processes-are-questioned-69c8d22d-e055-4cf6-ba99-80d7d5aa6b18"]Full Weekend Argus report (Open access)[/link]
[link url="https://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/news/khayelitsha-residents-close-medical-centre-housing-fake-doctor-a963f1c7-50ce-4209-8fb1-61389c12554e"]Full Cape Times report (Open access)[/link]