Alleged U.S. Stem Cell Fraudsters Shielded by South African Legal Logjam

A Marriage of Convenience?

At the time of the indictment van Rooyen and Brown were in the Seychelles, allegedly setting up a clinic. They were arrested on June 10, 2006, on their return to South Africa.

After spending 10 days in jail (where they got engaged), the couple was released on R100,000 (approximately $13,900) bail each. They married in July last year, though it is widely believed that they are no longer romantically involved and this is a marriage with a motive: Brown has been declared an undesirable immigrant by South African Home Affairs and her marriage to a South African citizen may strengthen her position.

Since then, the couple's high-powered defense team has managed to get the extradition hearing postponed, based on the technicality that will be decided on in Pretoria on Wednesday. Further delays while the matter proceeds to the Constitutional Court are likely. In the meantime, they live a charmed life in one of Cape Town's most up-market suburbs.

Business as Usual

The gap has given Brown and van Rooyen time to plan their next move.

It is widely believed that ACT will shortly be offering stem cell treatments in the Seychelles. Van Rooyen asserts that clinical trials have been approved there, and, South African state prosecutor Beverly Edwards believes that at least two of ACT's key employees have relocated to the island. The climate is good, the government friendly and the arms of U.S. or South African law can't reach that far.

As long as there are desperate people, van Rooyen and Brown have a captive market.

Georgia Black is the features editor at Marie Claire magazine in South Africa

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