By Marika Sboros
If I didn’t know better, I’d think the HPCSA’s legal team and its star witness, dietitian Claire Styrdom, were Trojan horses for Prof Tim Noakes. The first day of the HPCSA’s hearing against Noakes in Cape Town in November 2015 couldn’t have gone better for him if he had scripted it.
The charge follows a complaint Strydom lodged with the council for a single tweet Noakes made in February 2014. It it, he opined that low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) foods were good first foods for infant weaning. Here’s more:
First off, HPCSA advocate Meshak Mapholisa tried and failed to prevent an application by Noakes’ legal team for the committee hearing the charge against him to a Canadian medical specialist to give evidence for him via video link.
Advocate Michael van der Nest SC told the committee that Noakes had to seek expert evidence abroad because South African specialists were “reluctant” to give evidence for him. (The reason, it turns out, is not that no South African specialists believe Noakes is right but because they don’t want to waste time and money defending complaints from dietitians.)
Click here to read: Noakes: ‘I’m not killing people. Here’s the real killer!’
Mapholisa submitted a long list of reasons why the HPCSA committee hearing the charge against Noakes should deny the application. He said regulations required that witnesses be physically present, the HPCSA had always done it that way, and this was the first time it had received such an application.
He went on to say the technology might not work smoothly. The witness’s “demeanour” – body language, facial expressions, etc – would not always be clear via video link. Mapholisa also said witnesses could receive coaching out of camera, and someone could “tamper” with them during a toilet break.
Last but not least, he said Eskom’s “load shedding” might get in the way. Clearly, he subscribes to Murphy’s Law.
Pretoria advocate Joan Adams is chairing the HPCSA Professional Conduct Committee. Mapholisa’s arguments did not impress her in the least. She said there was legal precedent for video link. Justice, fairness and reasonableness demanded that Noakes could present evidence on his own behalf. She said HPCSA should not assume that whatever could go wrong would go wrong. It also should not assume bad faith on the part of Noakes and any international experts – a reference to suggestions of tampering.
Adams said that while Noakes was not “superhuman” or “godlike”,the HPCSA should not see him as “demonic”, as it appeared to do.
The committee unanimously agreed that Canadian medical professor Stephen Cunnane, of Sherbrook University could give evidence for Noakes via video link.
The next strike against the HPCSA’s case against Noakes came with Strydom’s evidence.
Mapholisa allowed Strydom to present her evidence as a slide presentation without making it available to Noakes’ legal team. When Adams questioned that, Mapholisa explained that he had only thought of this “overnight”. Adams didn’t buy that.
The content of Strydom’s evidence immediately became problematic for Mapholisa, when she began giving expert instead of just factual testimony. Strydom started interpreting science and ethical rules. Van der Nest pointed out this was beyond her area of expertise.
Both Mapholisa and Strydom had difficulty understanding the difference between factual and expert testimony. When Adams pointed this out, Mapholisa insisted she could do both. Adams explained the legal requirements Mapholisa would have to fulfill before he could present Strydom as an expert witness.
Mapholisa asked for a short adjournment, came back and said Strydom would be only a factual witness. Strydom continued to attempt to give expert testimony. Not surprisingly, an increasingly exasperated Van der Nest objected, Adams agreed and adjourned the hearing for the day. She Mapholisa to get his “house in order”.
Strydom will continue her evidence today.
Noakes has often said he welcomes the hearing mostly because he was not able to present LCHF evidence to the South African community on conventional nutrition platforms. Various organisations have declined to invite him to talk at nutrition conferences .
He also says he could very easily have made the hearing go away. He could simply deregister from the HPCSA as a medical practitioner, as he gave medical practice 15 years ago. While this would have saved him significant financial and emotional costs, it’s also because he believes that the hearing is “an important event in the history of nutrition in SA”. South Africans have a right to hear the truth about just what constitutes optimum nutrition to prevent or reverse serious disease.
Noakes also says the hearing is “not just about me giving unconventional evidence and advice”. It also about why are South Africans so unhealthy because they are also getting more obese. It is also about why doctors are diagnosing more people with diabetes.
“Is it the nutritional advice ‘experts’ give us?”
He will address that in his own testimony when he is finally able to do so. Noakes says he has no regrets about the tweets because the information in them is correct. It isn’t even “unconventional” in the scientific sense, because it is evidence-based.
He has consistently maintained that obesity and diabetes are not complex diseases, as medical experts like to make out.
“These are simple diseases, and the biology and body chemistry behind them are simple enough,” Noakes says.
Diabetes. in particular, does not have to be a chronic, progressive descent into ill health, requiring medication to prevent limb loss and declining mental function, as the orthodox paradigm currently suggests. If you doubt that, you have only to ask Canadian physician and LCHF expert, Dr Jay Wortman, says Noakes.
Click here to read: DIABETES CAN BE CURED! A DOCTOR’S PERSONAL JOURNEY
The hearing resumes today.