Pediatric surgeon Professor Peter Beale, who faces charges of murder and fraud, has also been charged with culpable homicide in connection with the death of a 21-month-old toddler.
Beale, 73, appeared in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday in connection with all of the charges against him, including the culpable homicide one.
The case was postponed to January 2023.
He is accused of unlawfully and negligently causing the death of a 21-month-old Alissa Strydom and is accused of the murder of 10-year-old Zayyaan Sayed.
Sayed died in October 2019 at Netcare’s Park Lane Clinic shortly after he performed what was meant to be a routine laparoscopic operation for reflux.
“Having intentionally misled the complainants (Sayed’s parents), into believing that the surgical intervention was necessary when in truth and in fact it was not, the accused knew that he was placing the life of the deceased at risk when it was not necessary to do so.
“Notwithstanding the fact that the accused was aware that there is an inherent risk with any surgical intervention undertaken, the accused recklessly continued,” the indictment read.
The fraud charge relates to the results of a distal esophageal biopsy performed on Sayed before the surgery.
In connection with the culpable homicide charge, it is alleged that Strydom was admitted to Mediclinic Morningside in July 2016 for the same procedure as Sayed and died that night after the procedure.
A post-mortem examination found that her tongue, heart, and liver were pale.
“The primary medical cause of the death of the deceased was noted as myocarditis [which is inflammation of the heart] in a person undergoing surgery,” the indictment read.
In Zayyaan’s case, Beale was charged alongside anaesthesiologist Dr. Abdulhay Munshi. Munshi was gunned down in Norwood, Johannesburg in September 2020, before the trial started.
The State is expected to call 49 witnesses, including clinicians and people who worked at the two hospitals where the children died.
The matter has been set down for 16 January 2023 but it will proceed earlier if a date in the latter part of 2022 is available.