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Organ trafficking syndicate found in South Africa

11-25-2010 14:56 BJT

by Amy Jephta

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- Prosecutions have gotten underway to put behind bars eight members of an illegal kidney transplant syndicate operating in South Africa.

The accused, who were exposed earlier this month after reports of unlawful transplant procedures surfaced, appeared in the Kwazulu Natal court yesterday.

They face charges of illegally harvesting and selling kidneys between 2001 and 2003 at the St. Augustine's Hospital in Durban.

Among the syndicate is a doctor, four surgeons, two hospital employees and a translator.

The group is believed to have performed more than 100 illegal operations over two years, mostly removing organs from poor Brazilian donors and implanting them in rich Israeli patients who could afford to buy kidneys worth more than 140,000 rands (20,000 U. S. dollars) each.

But it is not only individual offenders who have come under the spotlight. Earlier this month, healthcare group Netcare was fined 4 million rands (565,490 dollars) after CEO Richard Friedland pleaded guilty to his involvement and was charged with being aware of the operations taking place at St. Augustine's.

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