South African hospital pleads guilty to organ trafficking case

Telegraph
10.11.2010

A South African hospital has pleaded guilty in an organ trafficking case, which included the removal of organs from five children.

South African police spokesman Col. Vishnu Naidoo said that Netcare KwaZulu, a hospital in South Africa’s eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, will pay 7,820,000 rand (£704,000) in fines. The fine was handed down at Durban’s commercial crime court after a plea-bargain agreement over the scandal at the city’s St Augustine’s hospital, run by the Netcare group, which runs the largest private hospital network in South Africa.

The plea agreement came after the hospital was charged in September with conducting 109 illegal operations between 2001 and 2003.

The hospital group admitted receiving 3.8 million rand (£342,000) from an illegal organ trafficking syndicate that included the remove of kidneys from five children.

In a statement, the company acknowledged that “payments must have been made to the donors for their kidneys and that certain of the kidney donors were minors at the time that their kidneys were removed.”

“In terms of the plea agreement, Netcare KwaZulu was fined 20,000 rand for contravening the Human Tissue Act and four million rand for being in receipt of monies derived from the kidney transplants and participating in unlawful activities under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act,” it added.

The company said that while organs had originally been sourced from Israeli citizens, they were later obtained from Romania and Brazil at a lower cost.

According to prosecutors, Israelis were paid about $20,000 (£12,000) for their kidneys, while the Brazilians and Romanians were paid an average $6,000 (£3,700).

The charges came after media reports that Israeli citizens in need of transplants had been brought to South Africa for operations at St Augustine’s.

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