Right-to-die activist Sean Davison aims to raise R2,8m for legal battle

18 February 2019 - 13:27 By TimesLIVE
Professor Sean Davison sits in the gallery at the Cape Town Magistrate's Court in January.
Professor Sean Davison sits in the gallery at the Cape Town Magistrate's Court in January.
Image: Esa Alaxender

Right-to-die activist Sean Davison is attempting to raise R2,8m in a fundraising campaign to pay for “the legal fight of my life”.

Davison, who became an activist for the right to assisted suicide after being arrested in New Zealand for helping his mother die, is the co-founder of DignitySA.

He was charged with premeditated murder in late 2018 in a case that could see him serve a life sentence, if found guilty.

Prosecutors allege that he killed Justin Varian - who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease - by placing a bag over his head and administering helium in 2015. He was also charged in connection with the death of a 43-year-old doctor friend, Anrich Burger, in 2013. Burger was left quadriplegic following an accident.

Davison is using the GoFundMe platform to raise money for his defence. He started the fundraising page in December 2018.

“Having recently been charged with premeditated murder, I am now facing the legal fight of my life,” he said on GoFundMe.

“Those whom the state claim I 'murdered' were people known to me, suffering and desperate to end their unbearable and intractable suffering. Whilst I supported their right to choose to die, I am not guilty of premeditated murder.”

Davison said despite his legal team donating much of their time, "The costs of this legal battle are likely to be enormous and, as such, I humbly seek financial support for this legal battle on behalf of my family and myself."

The page has so far raised $507 (about R7,100) of the $200,000 (R2,8m) it aims to raise.

The World Federation of Right to Die Societies (WFRtDS) is also running its own fundraising campaign for Davison, which has so far raised about R400,000. Davison is serving his second term as president of the federation.

The 57-year-old University of the Western Cape professor appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court in January. At the time, Davison's lawyer Joshua Greeff told TimesLIVE there would be no comment "at this stage".

Davison was arrested in September 2018 and his laptop and cellphone were confiscated by the police.

He made headlines around the world in 2010 following his arrest in New Zealand for helping his 85-year-old mother, who had terminal cancer, end her life.

His GoFundMe appeal ends with the message: “The journey ahead will be a long and difficult one and my family and I take strength from your support and generosity.”