2022 SASES Presidents Report

What a pleasure to be able to attend a meeting without masks and distancing or sitting alone in front of the computer in a virtual meeting.  The success of continued learning is partly dependant on social interaction and networking, two important aspects that were forced to be abandoned in the recent past.

Your Exco for the last 2 years

  • President:                                           Emile Coetzee
  • Past President:                                   Eugenio Panieri
  • Vice President and ERAS:               Ravi Oodit
  • Treasurer:                                          Grahame Reimers
  • Secretary:                                           Bernie Maree
  • Minimal Access Surgery                  Zach Koto
  • Training Centre                                Alp Numanoglu
  • Travelling Fellowships and HIG     Heather Bougard
  • Metabolic Surgery                            Jean Lubbe
  • Website and communication         Jaco Botes

It remained difficult for the newer members to the EXCO to perform their key functions, as the collegial support and institutional knowledge of the older members was difficult to share on virtual platforms.  We are looking forward to re-establishing face-to-face Exco meetings in the new year.

With the change in schedule of the academic surgical congresses in South Africa, our voting-AGM now concurs with the combined ASSA/SAGES/SASES/VASA meeting and not with the SASES stand-alone meeting anymore.  As Exco we are of the opinion that attendance of the AGM and therefore a more representative voting process will happen at stand-alone meetings.  To achieve that, the term for the current Exco will need to be expanded for another year, and this will be debated and voted upon at the AGM in the Drakensberg at the 2022 ASSA/SAGES/SASES/VASSA meeting.

Academic meetings

We had a very successful virtual meeting in September 2021.  The meeting was very well attended and posed to be not only successful in its academic content  and attendance, but also proved to be a profitable meeting for the Society.

The 2023 SASES Stand Alone Meeting is planned for September 2023 at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town.  This venue has previously provided perfectly for the needs of our stand-alone meetings in a beautiful setting.  Deposits previously paid for a cancelled meeting due to COVID-19 have been brought forward to secure the venue for next year’s meeting.

Marcus Medical Eponymous Lecture

Dr John Devar is this year’s Marcus Medical Eponymous lecturer.  John is an academic HPB surgeon from the University of the Witwatersrand and is an accomplished laparoscopic surgeon.  He is a previous recipient of a SASES Travelling Grant and has become a master in minimally invasive HPB surgery.

Traveling fellowships

Insecurities in the ability to travel Internationally, or for our partner units to accept travelling fellows in the beginning of 2022, forced the Society to keep Travelling Fellowships on hold for 2022.  We managed to award an ad-hoc travelling fellowship to one of our members, Matthias Scriba, to visit the Oesophagogastric Surgical Unit in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  Ad hoc travelling fellowships are available for application at any time by any member and we encourage our members to apply for an ad hoc grant, should training opportunities arise.

Training Centre

The Red Cross Training Centre has resumed activities and the SASES affiliated courses were fully subscribed. The Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy, Appendicectomy and Suture course remains the most popular and is a prerequisite for entry into the FCS final examination.


The Hernia Interest Group remains an important part of our Society and is thriving.  The HIG President, Dr Heather Bougard will give a separate President’s report for HIG. Your SASES membership gives you automatic membership to HIG, and we encourage all members to contribute the SA Hernia Registry.

Metabolic Surgery

The expansion of availability of metabolic surgery to the people of South Africa has really gained momentum over the last 2 years.  A subcommittee was created within SASES, namely The South African Metabolic Medicine Subcommittee/Society (SAMMS). The working members are represented by both surgeons and endocrinologists from SASES and SEMDSA.  Great advances have been made to create training centers for metabolic surgery within the Academic Centers of South Africa and this process is ongoing.

Robotic Colorectal Surgery

With the acquisition of Da Vinci Robotic Systems in the State Sector in the Western Cape, there has been wider roll-out of robotic assisted colorectal surgery in SA.  Five units are now performing these procedures, 3 in the private sector and 2 in the public sector.  The SACRS and SASES are collaborating on this venture to ensure responsible enrolment and auditing of this platform by adequately trained and experienced high-volume surgeons.  The Society remains indebted to the hard work done by Drs Frik Rademan and Reniel De Beer who have an established unit in Durbanville Mediclinic and paved the way for successful rollout of this platform in Colorectal Surgery.

Website and Communication

As a Society we aim to keep communication relevant.  Important information is shared on the website that is regularly updated.  Very important information is shared via email and sms, and we encourage members to pay attention to important communication from the Society.

In conclusion,

It is a real pleasure to see the how the landscape of endoscopic surgery in South Africa is evolving and what influence our Society has had in training excellent laparoscopic surgeons through the Fellowship programs.  Past Fellows currently hold key positions in the surgical community and skills are passed onto trainees.  We are excited to continue on this journey of improving access and quality of minimally invasive surgery to the surgeons of South Africa.