Thursday, 30 April 2015
Pretoria Judge authorises “mercy killing" of Cape lawyer... doctors might still be prosecuted
The authorisation of the euthanasia of the cancer patient is not the end of it.
The life of a Siamese twin depended upon the killing of their sibling. In Great Britain, the courts were asked to authorise the slaying of the marked out sibling twin. The courts created something never attempted before, in authorising the killing. The judgement set out a judgement without precedent, a judgement that future cases could not reference as a binding authority. This is something the courts attempted, in an authorised, legal murder of a little child, to save the life of an equally little child.
The standing law in South Africa is that if you kill a person out of feelings of mercy to the victim, you are convicted of murder, but are given a minimal sentence.
A Pretoria judge, Hans Fabricus, has authorised the euthanasia of a lawyer, 65 year old Adv. Robin Stransham-Ford, who practices law in Cape Town. The judge attempted something similar to the British court, setting out that each future case must be decided on its merits.
News report that the judgement set out that the doctors would neither be prosecuted nor convicted, nor held civilly liable for their intentional killing of a cancer patient.
Therein lies the problem. It is set out by our system of government that it is the role of the National Prosecuting Authority to decide whether to prosecute. The law furthermore states clearly, through precedent, that euthanasia is still murder, that is to say, no matter your motive, you may not intentionally kill another human being without justification. Cases where people have sought legal advice and acted in accordance with it, while still breaking the law, have found the violator of the law still guilty.
Can a judge authorise a battered wife to kill her husband? Can it authorise a police team to assassinate a kidnapper or criminal? The problem with the judgement authorising the killing of the lawyer, is its shady quality. The real precedent if it comes will occur if the prosecutor decides to prosecute the doctors. Then, the courts will need to decide whether a judge can issue a death warrant by authorising killings which oppose standard law. Further, the facts are not at issue yet, the killing is not yet done, the judge might well have pre-empted an issue, and further his decision could be viewed by courts as merely legal advice, and thus not binding.
One would have expected a Capetonian judge to adjudicate such a matter, of note is that the judge is question is a Pretoria based judge, and yet, he is deciding on the fate of a Capetonian. Perhaps there is also an issue of physical territorial jurisdiction beyond that of basic concepts of jurisdiction. It would take a brave or reckless doctor to be willing to be the test case in this matter. Otherwise, we might find ourselves in a country where any odd member of the judiciary issues authorisation for any number of usually illegal activities, from killings, to burglary, to any number of cases. An attempt to pre-judge or authorise a series of events, certainly may not stand the test of time.
Ultimately the real case is yet to come. It will likely follow on police sirens, and the injection of a green substance resembling Spar Letta Cream Soda.
Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice.
Who is Marc Evan Aupiais?
A deep interest in the law of South Africa, especially our constitutional and common law, guided my studies and continues to influence my current career path. I enjoy engaging in the day to day work of being an attorney, and reading the material contained in our case law.
I have gained and enjoyed much exposure to the law and to the day to day details of practice, and to extensive litigation work, during my years of practise since my admission to the profession and enrolment as an attorney of the High Court, as well as during my articles of clerkship and, prior to that, when I worked as a student counsellor/paralegal at the Wits Law Clinic – in the final year of law school and during my studies at the School for Legal Practice.
I am passionate about the place of my birth, South Africa, and am proud to be a patriot and citizen of this diverse and beautiful nation. I consider myself a global citizen and keep connections in a number of different nations across the world. Communicating with people from other cultures, I believe, has aided me to have a more open-minded approach in so far as how I see, and interact with, the world.
I believe success requires not just hard work but intelligence, perseverance, humility, integrity, ingenuity, diligence, a strong work ethic, and the courage to request the assistance of those better-versed in a matter, or field, where necessary.
The cultures and legal systems, morals and courtesy systems, languages, intricacies and religions of South Africa and of the nations of the world, are subjects I love to research. I enjoy reading and writing. To keep abreast with important events occurring in other countries, I find my knowledge of other languages, especially French, to be highly useful. I passed Afrikaans at a matric level. I took Zulu from grades 5 to 7. The language I am best acquainted with, is my first language of English, which I speak in everyday life.
I enjoy public speaking and debate, and believe that manners, appropriate dress for an occasion and courtesy are of very great importance. I enjoy hard work and like to throw myself entirely into solving a problem.
Law & Career
I currently work under my own name and style as an attorney and sole proprietor, at Marc Evan Aupiais Attorney.
Law firms I have worked at include: DL Wilson Attorneys in Randburg North, Desmond Barry Attorneys in Morningside, Sandton, Botha & Sutherland Attorneys in Aukland Park, Johannesburg, and Serina Govender Inc. Attorneys. I also edit and write for the SACNS, have written breaking news for a multinational service called InfosNews Breaking News, and act as a correspondent for the popular french language Les News service.
Novels I have written include
A Lesser Instinct | My first foray into the world of long form fiction.
Read it without payment - on Scribd.
I have a YouTube account, where I sometimes post videos.
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