Zaire Slapped with N$12 000 Fine

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By Staff Reporter WINDHOEK Dr Reinhardt Zaire was yesterday handed the maximum fine of N$12ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 or two years imprisonment, after being found guilty on two counts of contravening Section 21 of the Medical and Dental Professions Act of 1993. He was acquitted on two other counts of contravening the same Act when Magistrate Dina Usiku passed judgment in the Windhoek Regional Court in Katutura. The sentence on the two counts on which Zaire was found guilty was applied together. Zaire was accused of practicing as a medical practitioner without registering with the Medical Board of Namibia as required by the Act. He has not denied that he is not registered with the board but that he has been practicing as a medical doctor. When the matter was last heard on April 4, Zaire’s lawyer Jan Wessels, pleaded for his acquittal, submitting that none of the State witnesses testified that Zaire ever treated them or that he ever received any payment for any treatment that he may have rendered. Wessels further submitted that the Act is clear and only prohibits gainful practice by any medical practitioner not registered with the Medical Board of Namibia. Thus treating one’s child or friend could thus not constitute an offence as contemplated by the Act. Usiku said the State has discharged the burden on it to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, especially on counts one and three on which Zaire was found guilty. She added, however, that beyond reasonable doubt does not mean proving beyond any shadow of doubt. Nor does beyond reasonable doubt mean that the State in proving its case needs to plug every loophole. However, on counts two and four on which Zaire was acquitted, Usiku said the State did not provide sufficient ground for conviction. Prosecutor OJ Asino, representing the State, put it to the court that the offence that Zaire was accused of was a serious offence under the Act, which sought not only to regulate the profession but also to prohibit doctors from practicing without registering with the board. Most importantly the Act sought to protect the people against unregistered medical practitioners and the State thus has a duty to protect the lives of its citizens as well as ensure that their health is not endangered. He submitted that Zaire went to the extent of drawing blood from patients who went to see him, administered medicine not only once but several times. He also made money in the process directly or indirectly. He said in view of the need to regulate the industry and protect the public, contravention of the Act thus carried the maximum fine of N$12ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 or two years imprisonment or both. However, he took cognizance of the fact that Zaire was a first offender, as well as his age – 56. In mitigation Wessels put it to the court that there was no evidence that Zaire wrongly diagnosed any of the patients he is alleged to have treated. Nor was there any evidence that they suffered financially or were injured. He said imprisonment was not an appropriate sentence for a family man like him and pleaded for a fine not exceeding N$2ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000. Passing sentence, the magistrate considered the influx of people in the country practicing without registering and the importance of those practicing as medical doctors to comply with the Act. She also recognised the fact that as a first offender, Zaire would expect some leniency as well as the fact that the alleged victims did not suffer any harm. She also took cognizance of his personal circumstances, especially the fact that he is 56 years old and that he was highly unlikely to repeat the offence after conviction. Zaire is considering appealing the sentence.