Medical doctors gathered today in Houghton, Johannesburg, to mourn and protest the death of Dr Abdulhay Munshi, who was gunned down in Orange Grove yesterday. The South African Medical Association (SAMA) said in a statement that the killing of Dr Munshi is “outrageous and deplorable”, and that “all South Africans should be appalled”.
SAMA said it is shocked at the death of anaesthetist Dr Abdulhay Munshi in Johannesburg yesterday on the afternoon of the 16th of September. The Association says it deplores the violence that resulted in Dr Munshi’s murder, and that it is a sad day when a country cannot guarantee the safety of its healthcare workers.
According to reports, a blue BMW rammed into the back of Dr Munshi’s vehicle while he was driving in Joburg surburg, Orange Grove, and when he got out to inspect the damage, he was shot six times in the back of the head.
SAMA explained that “in a most unusual move”, Dr Munshi and Paediatric Surgeon Professor Peter Beale were earlier this year charged with culpable homicide after 10-year-old Zayyaan Sayed died following an operation performed by Prof Beale and assisted by Dr Munshi in 2019. According to sources these charges were about to be dropped based on post mortem evidence, said SAMA.
“This appears to be an organised assassination the circumstances of which we hope will become clearer through intensive and thorough investigation. This killing is the result of a systematic failure of law and order in our country. As doctors, we always consider our patients’ best interests and we go to extreme lengths to ensure their safety and security. It is more than disappointing when this care is not reciprocated by the society we serve every day,” says Dr Angelique Coetzee, Chairperson of SAMA.
Dr Coetzee says the killing of Dr Munshi again highlights the high levels of crime in the country, and the low-value criminals place on human lives. She says the fact that a doctor was killed in this way will reverberate throughout the medical community, and ultimately cause more damage in the future.
“Doctors are already becoming more risk-averse because of legal issues. That one of our colleagues was murdered in cold blood like this – ostensibly in relation to a patient’s outcome – will make many think twice before making decisions which could potentially save lives, but which may also have negative outcomes. It’s an untenable situation,” says Dr Coetzee.
SAMA says it is important that the entire medical community comes together to collectively condemn the killing, and to pressure police to find those responsible as quickly as possible. In addition, SAMA calls on civil society to apply pressure, in whatever way they can, to ensure the government takes immediate and effective steps to curb violent crime.
“This is yet another low point for the profession, and words cannot begin to express how this is affecting and will affect all doctors and, in fact, all healthcare workers in the country. We foresee that many doctors will be second-guessing themselves in future for fear of being similarly targeted and ultimately that will lead to poorer patient intervention and care. It’s a sad, sad day for doctors and patients, and we call on everyone in our country to stand together with their doctors in condemning this atrocious attack,” concludes Dr Coetzee.
Orthopaedic surgeon Mark Hamer says: “SAMA calls on all doctors to wear a Black armband tomorrow Friday 18th September in solidarity with Dr Abdulhay Munshi, senselessly murdered yesterday. We call on Government to take responsibility and implement stringent measures to curb violent crime.”
TV reported Rianté Naidoo says Dr Munshi’s body was due to leave his home this afternoon in order to be buried today in accordance with Muslim burial rights.
A large show of support from doctors and colleagues of Dr Munshi:
#Munshi Many in the healthcare fraternity have arrived at the late Dr Munshi’s home to pay their respects to their family. The family don’t wish to talk to media, as they’re distraught about what’s happened. @etvNewsSA pic.twitter.com/vzI0oYJpbY
— Rianté Naidoo (@RianteP) September 17, 2020
Show off support for our murdered colleague. Dr Abdulhay Munshi pic.twitter.com/Y7fBpaYHo0
— Daniel Shmukler (@DrShmuk) September 17, 2020