Body found

Image: Archive photo

Merchant of death: Dr Mwesigwa awaits sentencing for organ theft

The pathologist was found guilty of organ theft after a lengthy, five-year trial.

Body found

Image: Archive photo

Dr James Mwesigwa faces life imprisonment after the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court found the Diepkloof doctor guilty of organ theft.

What has Dr Mwesigwa been convicted of?

On Thursday, fives years after he was charged with attempting to steal Alida Scheepers’ body parts, Mwesigwa was found guilty of the following charges:

  • theft;
  • violating a body;
  • defeating and obstructing the administration of justice;
  • contravening regulations relating to the use of human biological material;
  • contravening regulations regarding the control of human bodies, tissue, blood, blood products; and
  • contravening regulations regarding the rendering of forensic pathology services

The DA’s Jack Bloom who spoke with Jacaranda FM revealed that Mwesigwa, a former forensic pathologist, was caught trying to leave the Diepkloof mortuary, in Soweto, with a bucket filled with human organs, in 2013.

The pathologist spent 17 months in suspension, earning his full salary package. By 2015, Bloom revealed that Mwesigwa had accumulated more than R1-million.

What body parts did he attempt to steal?

NPA spokesperson, Phindi Mjonondwane, confirmed that charges were brought to the pathologist in that same year after it was discovered that he had “removed or caused to be removed certain organs from the body of the deceased and retained these organs without the permission of the family of the deceased”.

Court documents show that in the bucket that Mwesigwa was carrying, the following organs were found:

  • brain;
  • tongue;
  • pharynx;
  • larynx;
  • oesophagus;
  • trachea;
  • lungs;
  • heart;
  • pericardial sac; and
  • part of the diaphragm

After years of court proceedings, Mwesigwa was finally found guilty on Thursday. Prosecutors have never been able to establish what Mwesigwa had intended to do with the corpse’s organs.

When will he be sentenced?

The Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court was expected to sentence Mwesigwa on Friday. However, at the time of publication of this article, the court had not delivered a sentence.

It is expected, however, that Mwesigwa will spend the rest of his days behind bars.