Minds Alive dentist on trial over rehab death

Durban dentist Anwar Jeewa

Durban dentist Anwar Jeewa

Published Apr 16, 2024


Durban — The trial of a Durban dentist charged with the murder of Milos Martinovic – a Canadian man who died after being treated at the doctor’s illegal rehab centre in Westville – began on Monday in the Durban High Court.

Anwar Mohamed Jeewa is charged with murder, unlawfully selling a Schedule 6 substance, compounding a Schedule 6 substance, unlawfully manufacturing a Schedule 6 substance, exporting a Schedule 6 substance and establishing and managing an unregistered treatment centre.

The State alleges that the dentist was operating Minds Alive Wellness Centre, a drug and alcohol treatment/ detoxification facility that was not registered with the Departments of Social Development or Health.

Senior State advocate Nadira Moosa said the State had set out to prove that the accused was aware that being registered was a prerequisite for operating such a facility.

A summary of substantial facts in the matter is that Jeewa advertised himself as a specialist with extensive knowledge in ibogaine therapy for drug addiction, and attended several conferences on the use of ibogaine where he was advised and advised others that it should not be used to treat an addiction to benzodiazepines.

Jeewa had a permit to import Tabermanthe Iboga (dry plant material) from Gabon to South Africa, which he did on a regular basis. He used the dry plant material to manufacture preparations containing ibogaine, which the State alleges he had no licence to do.

Martinovic was a Canadian and French citizen who was addicted to Oxycontin (an opiate) and Xanax (known as alprazolam).

Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine medication commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorder.

The State’s case is that Martinovic came to know of Minds Alive through their website and contacted Jeewa whom he believed to be a medical doctor. He wanted to treat his addiction to opiates and benzodiazepines using ibogaine therapy and Jeewa agreed to treat him for a fee.

Martinovic then travelled to SA and on arrival at Minds Alive he was in possession of an unknown number of OxyContini tablets and several boxes of Xanax which the State alleges Jeewa allowed him to keep.

It is alleged that Jeewa instructed Martinovic to continue taking the tablets he had allowed him to keep to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Martinovic was admitted to the facility in November 2017 and on the night of November 7, he was given three to four separate doses of ibogaine capsules by a nurse, Zamokwakhe Hlongwane, allegedly on the instruction of Jeewa.

Moosa said the State would prove that the accused did this knowing Xanax was a benzodiazepine and that ibogaine was contra-indicated for the treatment of addiction to benzodiazepines, and that the chances of fatality increased when benzodiazepines or opiates are taken together with other substances.

At some point after Martinovic was given the last dose of ibogaine, he went into cardiac arrest and the only person on duty at Minds Alive was Hlongwane, who delayed calling for assistance.

“There was no medical practitioner on site or on call on the day in question. There was inadequate resuscitation equipment, infrastructure and competent professional nursing staff on-site. The enrolled nurse had no adequate requisite to deal with an emergency,” said Moosa.

When Jeewa allegedly arrived after being called by Hlongwane, he failed to undertake a proper resuscitation of the deceased as required.

Martinovic’s post-mortem report revealed that the cause of death was an overdose of Xanax, and ibogaine was detected in his blood.

Jeewa’s counsel advocate Jay Naidoo is to read out his client’s admissions when the trial continues on Tuesday (today).

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