The South African Medical Association (SAMA) said it was shocked to learn of the death of anaesthetist Dr Abdulhay Munshi.
Munshi, the co-accused in a case of culpable homicide along with paediatric surgeon Dr Peter Beale, was shot dead in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
SAMA said it deplored the violence that resulted in Munshi's murder, and that it was a sad day when a country could not guarantee the safety of its healthcare workers.
According to reports, a vehicle rammed into the back of Munshi's vehicle while he was driving in a Johannesburg suburb and, when he got out to inspect the damage, he was shot six times in the back of the head.
Munshi and Beale were taken to court last year following the death of Mohammad Sayed's 10-year-old son after an operation.
ALSO READ: HPCSA raises concerns over arrest of doctors for culpable homicide
Zayyaan Sayed died in October 2019 at Netcare's Park Lane Clinic hours after going under the knife.
The court case was at an early stage and had been postponed to 16 November, according to the Daily Dispatch.
SAMA says, according to sources, these charges were about to be dropped based on post-mortem evidence.
"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," said Dr Angelique Coetzee, chairperson of SAMA.
Coetzee said the killing of Munshi again highlighted the high levels of crime in the country, and the "low value criminals place on human lives".
She said the fact that a doctor was killed in this way would 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," said Coetzee.
Another low point for medical profession
SAMA said it was important that the entire medical community came together to collectively condemn the killing, and to pressure police to find those responsible as quickly as possible. In addition, SAMA called on civil society to apply pressure to ensure 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," said Coetzee.
For more news your way, download The Citizen's app for iOS and Android.