Is open-identity gamete donation lawful in South Africa?

South African gamete banks and gamete donation agencies do not offer open-identity donors, as it is generally believed that donor anonymity is a legal requirement in South Africa. Together with Dr Bonginkosi Shozi, I investigated the veracity of this belief. In our article in the South African Medical Journal, we offer a comprehensive analysis of all the South African statutes and case law relevant to this topic. We conclude that the notion that gamete donors must always be anonymous is mistaken. In actuality, the law provides that gamete donation in South Africa can be anywhere on the spectrum between anonymous and known. Accordingly, open-identity gamete donation is lawful in South Africa and should be offered to the public by South African gamete banks and gamete donation agencies. Read our article here.

Photo 103206680 / Sperm Donation © Anamaria Mejia |

South Africa’s latest medically assisted reproduction draft regulations: close, but no cigar

In March 2021, the South African minister of health published a new set of draft regulations on medically assisted reproduction. Although these latest draft regulations address some of the shortcomings in the current regulations, they also introduce new issues of concern. Dr Bonginkosi Shozi and I analyse these latest draft regulations and make comprehensive recommendations for improvement. Read our article here.

Photo 49380679 / Cigar © Sergii Kolesnyk |

“No!” to a moratorium on heritable human genome editing research

While TB and HIV are not a public health concern in many other nations, these diseases remain epidemics in South Africa. Clearly, people in South Africa have good reason for wanting to ensure that their children are not afflicted by these diseases. Heritable human genome editing (HHGE) could potentially offer a solution, but only if research in this area is allowed to proceed. This is why calls for a global moratorium on HHGE research is misaligned with the needs and expectations of South Africans, and raise concerns about ethical imperialism. A better approach to HHGE research is to encourage it within a clear regulatory framework. Read the full argument here.

Photo 4720616 / Dna © Lush |

The legal status of human biological material used for research

Whether human biological material (‘HBM’) in the research context is susceptible of ownership in South African law is contested, yet under-investigated. Previous literature on the subject barely touches the surface, and fails to provide in-depth, comprehensive legal analyses. This situation leads to legal uncertainty for local scientists, their international collaborators, and research ethics committees. In our latest article, published in South Africa’s most prestigious peer-reviewed law journal, Dr Bonginkosi Shozi and I dive deep into this topic — analysing both common law and statutory law — and conclude that HBM in the research context is indeed susceptible of ownership. We also consider the question of who owns HBM in various practical research-related scenarios. Importantly, we conclude that in all legally compliant scenarios HBM is owned by a research institution. There is no legally compliant scenario in which research participants can retain ownership of the HBM that they provide for research. We trust that our thorough analysis in this article will provide much-needed legal certainty to all involved in using HBM for research in South Africa.

Photo 73345087 / Blood Sample © Angellodeco |