Frances Ames

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 07 December 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1365

Neurologist who fought the South African medical establishment over the death in custody of black activist Steve Biko

Three days before she died, Frances Ames, emeritus professor of neurology at the University of Cape Town, had spent an hour and a half with her colleague Dr Trefor Jenkins discussing the price of coffins and funerals. The money, she thought, would be better spent on a donation to a hospice. This last exchange reflected a life of strongly held views about equity and social justice.

Dr Jenkins, former dean of the medical school at the University of Witwatersrand, was one of six doctors, including Ames, who challenged the medical establishment and the former South African government over the death in custody of black activist Steve Biko in September 1977.

The six had become outraged not only at the death of Biko but at the behaviour of the statutory registration body, the Medical and Dental …

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