Statement On Sunday Times Violations

21 August 2007

The publishing by the Sunday Times of the Minister of Health`s confidential medical records is a deplorable act of insensitivity and a potential crime.

Section 10 of our Constitution guarantees the protection and respect of everyone`s human dignity. Section 14 of the Constitution entrenches the right to privacy, thereby giving legal expression to, among others, the long-established principle of the confidentiality of personal medical information. Section 14 of the National Health Act, 2003, stipulates that all information concerning a user, including information relating to his or her health status, treatment or stay in a health establishment, is confidential and no person may disclose any such information unless the user consented thereto in writing, or a court order or any law requires that disclosure or non-disclosure of the information would represent a serious threat to public health.

The Sunday Times has not only acted in a shameful and barbaric manner, it has also acted in a manner that clearly militates against the fundamental values enshrined by our Constitution and the National Health Act. It has thus undermined the efforts and sacrifices of the many patriots who suffered and lost their lives to ensure that these values become a defining feature of our society. The continued violation of Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang`s human rights and dignity also undermines our people`s confidence about the capacity of our constitutional and legal instruments to protect the country`s citizens. The Sunday Times has abused press freedom and has acted in an unethical manner that deserves condemnation by all.

James Ngculu, MP
Health Portfolio Committee Chairperson

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