The Cape High Court last year ruled that the terminally ill Robin Stransham-Ford be allowed to end his life with the assistance of a doctor. Stransham-Ford died naturally on the day of the ruling.
The Department of Health is opposed to this ruling. Several parties, including the Centre for Applied Legal Studies and the World Palliative Care Association, which cares for terminally ill patients, have been admitted as friends of the court, in order to provide the court with their views on the matter.
If the judgment is upheld, South Africa will become only the eighth nation in the world to allow assisted suicide, though the department would still have the option of appealing to the Constitutional Court.