Tutu supports euthanasia man
Cleric backs UWC scientist’s bail bid
CAPE Town scientist Professor Sean Davison, who faces a charge of attempted murder in New Zealand, is reportedly set to return to South Africa as the Dunedin High Court has adjusted his bail conditions.
This comes after an appeal by the University of the Western Cape, backed by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
Davison, 49, was arrested in New Zealand in September after he confessed to giving his 85-year-old mother a fatal dose of morphine, at her request.
Tutu’s spokesman, Dan Vaughan, said the archbishop had faith in Davison.
Asked about Tutu’s intervention, Vaughan said: “The only intervention is that he put on record the trust he has in Sean (and) that he will return to stand trial when needed.”
Vaughan said Tutu’s support was not to be confused with a stand on euthanasia.
Davison is the head of the forensics laboratory in UWC’s biotechnology department.
UWC vice-chancellor and rector Brian O’Connell wrote a letter of appeal, which got the stamp of approval from Tutu, to the High Court pleading for Davison to be allowed to return to South Africa.
The university’s appeal was based on the “welfare of the students, our commitment to the donors, our concern about the project of reconciliation through DNA evidence, as well as the development of our nation’s competence in science and technology”.
In the letter, O’Connell describes Davison as an important person in the field of biotechnology.
According to the New Zealand newspaper the Otago Daily Times, the university expected the professor to return to work early next year.
Davison leads the Forensic DNA Project, with a focus on identifying people in human rights cases in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
O’Connell said the project had stalled in his absence.
The rector vouched for Davison’s character, saying that “his stewardship at UWC has been exemplary”.
“I have complete confidence that he will honour his bail conditions and return to New Zealand when requested,” he said.
UWC would make it a condition of his continued employment that he return for court appearances.
Davison detailed the 2006 euthanasia in an unedited version of his book Before We Say Goodbye. His mother, Patricia Ferguson, a doctor, was diagnosed with cancer. She had tried to starve herself before turning to her son for help.
Davison described in an unpublished section of the book how he crushed morphine pills into a drink, and told his mother it would end her life.
He said she had thanked him and told him he was “a wonderful son”.
Although the confession was left out of the book, it was later leaked to the New Zealand press, leading to Davison being arrested during a family visit to Christchurch.
Efforts were made without success to contact Davison’s attorney, Len Anderson, in New Zealand to find out when Davison would return.