Kenilworth Doctor Busted For Peddling Schedule Medications Overseas Worth R5 Million

A Kenilworth doctor, Dr Bert Wolfgang Kirsten, was recently sentenced in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court for selling and distributing scheduled medicines worth approximately R5 million. The system for categorizing medicines, called scheduling, categorizes them by safety risk, with schedule 4 or 5 medicines, like the ones Kirsten distributed, requiring a prescription from a doctor due to their higher risk. Kirsten, along with his wife, Shelley Ann, were caught during a sting operation by the Hawks in 2018 while he was attempting to mail prescription drugs to overseas clients from a Kenilworth Post Office.

The investigation was led by the Hawks’ South African Narcotics Enforcement Bureau (Saneb) team, and Kirsten pleaded guilty to 1,198 counts of selling scheduled medicines and 570 counts of money laundering under the Prevention of Organized Crime Act (Poca). In October 2018, the Hawks conducted search warrants as part of an investigation into an alleged illegal medicine distribution network that spanned multiple countries.

After being arrested, Kirsten and his wife were granted bail, with Kirsten receiving R80,000 bail and his wife R20,000 bail. However, all charges against Kirsten’s wife were later withdrawn when a plea agreement was entered. Kirsten was sentenced to an effective three years of house arrest and ordered to repay the R5 million he made from selling and distributing scheduled medications.

His sentence included eight years’ imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years, on condition that he does not commit the same offense during that period. The charges were withdrawn on counts 1,199 to 2,260 for exporting scheduled medicines, and on counts 2,261 to 2,830 for money laundering, he received a six-year sentence that was also wholly suspended for five years under the same conditions.

In addition to the prison sentence, Kirsten was sentenced to three years of correctional supervision under section 276(1)(h) of the Criminal Procedure Act, and a confiscation order was granted for the amount of R5 million to be paid into the Criminal Asset Recovery Account. This case serves as a reminder that crime does not pay, according to the provincial spokesperson for the Hawks, Warrant Officer Zinzi Hani.

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