An illegal human organ transplant clinic, advertised on the streets of Cape Town, was all part of an elaborate campaign to promote a new local movie.
Film authorities are taking the publicity stunt seriously, however, and are now investigating.
On Monday, the Daily Voice reported that pamphlets were being distributed by the New Day Clinic, where you can get the body part you want within a week with transplants offered at their “world-class medical facility”.
The Daily Voice accessed the clinic’s website, where a price list for organs — including kidneys, livers and hearts — are displayed.
You can “buy” a kidney for R3.5 million, while a patch of skin will set you back R140 per square centimetre.
Eyes were selling for just R2 000 each, while a second-hand spleen went for R7 000.
The pamphlets were handed out on Durban and Tyger Valley roads in Tyger Valley last week, according to motorists, by a “Nigerian woman” dressed in a surgical mask and white latex gloves.
The phone number on the pamphlet went to a voice message service.
The Daily Voice also investigated who the website was registered to, but was told by experts that “they’ve hidden their domain registration information, and bought the domain via a proxy”.
And now it appears it was all just a crazy marketing stunt for a new medical action thriller, called Bypass, starring Cape Flats babe Natalie Becker, and Hakeem Kae-Kazim.
The film director, Shane Vermooten, did not answer or return calls yesterday.
The Organ Donor Foundation says it has been swamped with calls by panicked citizens who read the Daily Voice story.
But the foundation’s Cara Fowler “commended” Vermooten for his cleverly orchestrated publicity stunt.
“Bypass, Africa’s first medical thriller, highlights the reality of the illegal trade in human organs. It is the director/producer’s wish that those who encountered this campaign would become organ donors and contribute to the solution,” says Fowler.
“If there were sufficient legal organs available the need for a black market trade would decrease significantly. We have to congratulate Shane and his team for getting even our knickers in a knot,” she adds.
Authorities, however, are not impressed by Vermooten’s daring stunt.
Spokesperson for the Film and Publications Board, Janine Raftopoulos, said her office would investigate “if the rules had been followed”.
“It is highly unlikely we would allow the publication of a movie whose campaign would incite illegal activities,” she says.
Emerantia Cupido of Western Cape Health, who previously said the department asked police to investigate, yesterday apparently had a change of heart and said: “This does not fall under our jurisdiction to be able to comment.”
Bypass will be released in theatres on Friday, May 12.
The movie tells the story of a cardiac surgeon, who is forced to make decisions regarding the life of her son, and turns her back on the medical system and delves into the murky world of the black market organ trade.