Former SA Medical Association chairperson banned from speaking to the media about her resignation
Dr Angelique Coetzee, who stepped down from her position as the chairperson of the South African Medical Association on Friday, is facing a disciplinary hearing and has been requested to stop all media interviews.
After stepping down from her position as the chairperson of the South African Medical Association (Sama) on Friday, Dr Angelique Coetzee was barred from speaking to the media, pending a disciplinary hearing.
The current vice-chairperson of the Sama board, Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa, will assume the role of interim chairperson “while the board contemplates Coetzee’s permanent replacement”, according to a notice sent to members of the association.
Mzukwa is an experienced general practitioner in KwaZulu-Natal and a seasoned member of the association.
Dr Edward Ngwenya, the chairperson of Sama’s Chairperson’s Forum, a forum of the chairpersons of all Sama branches, will assume the role of interim vice-chairperson.
On Friday, Sama issued a media statement saying that it “takes note of remarks” made by Coetzee during an interview on CapeTalk on 26 January relating to admission requirements to medical schools in South Africa.
During the interview, Coetzee said admissions to medical schools were highly politicised, that race played a significant role in determining acceptance to medical faculties, in many instances more than the applicant’s matric performance, and that different criteria exist for different race groups with regard to admission requirements.
Since then, Coetzee has apologised unreservedly for any emotional hurt this statement may have caused.
“After considerable deliberation, the Sama board accepted her apology,” Sama’s statement read.
“The board acknowledges that Dr Coetzee’s interpretation of the admission requirements is incorrect, and that entrance processes for medical students are much more complex and thorough than what was stated in her opinion. The board is fully cognisant of the fact that the stringent entry requirements are meant to ensure the provision of only the highest-quality medical professionals for the country.
“Sama further acknowledges that entrance to medical schools requires a high level of academic achievement across the board, and that all candidates selected for entry into medical school are chosen, inter alia, on merit and ability,” Sama’s statement continued.
The organisation went on to say that it “empathises” with the hurt and anger the “unfortunate remarks” by Coetzee may have caused to doctors and the general population in South Africa.
At the weekend, Coetzee declined to be interviewed, saying she had been banned from speaking to the media about issues other than medical questions, pending a disciplinary hearing. At this stage she remains an ordinary member of the board.
Coetzee became internationally known in December 2021 as the medical doctor who treated one of the first cases of the then unknown Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. She was also one of the first to controversially indicate, and was later proven to be correct, that the virus caused less severe disease than other variants like Beta and Delta. DM/MC