North Gauteng High Court expected to rule on landmark euthanasia case today

APRIL 30, 2015

The North Gauteng High Court is expected to rule today (Thursday) on whether a terminally ill prostate cancer patient, Robin Stransham-Ford, has the right to be assisted to commit suicide. Stransham-Ford says his cancer has reduced the quality of his life and he wants to die now and with dignity.

Both the Departments of Justice and Health are opposing the application as well as a group called Doctors for Life.

But Stransham-Ford is in a desperate plea to end his life; doctors have given the father of four only a few weeks to live. He wants the courts to assist him in ending his life by absolving the doctor who will assist him from criminal prosecution.

Currently, in South Africa, it is illegal for doctors to end the life of a patient - even in desparate circumstances.

Stransham-Ford's lawyer says he is an educated person, who knows and understands what he wants - to die.

The opposing parties argue that if Stransham-Ford wishes to end his life - he should not seek a helping hand. They argue that if granted, the matter will result in a flood of assisted suicide requests. 

Parties are now working on a settlement order that will only be applicable to this case. It's a complex and longstanding debate in this case it also highlights the effects of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer kills over 2 000 men in the country annually. All men over 40 are at high risk and are advised to go for regular screenings.