Basson inquiry enters its third day

2011-09-28 08:57

An inquiry into the alleged unethical conduct of cardiologist Wouter Basson will continue for a third day in Pretoria today.

In written testimony yesterday, Steven Miles, a practising internist and lecturer at the University of Minnesota, said Basson acted contrary to the laws of humanity while heading the apartheid-era Project Coast.

Project Coast was the chemical and biological warfare programme of the apartheid government in the 1980s.

Miles said Basson unethically retained his medical licence as he monitored testing that was part of a programme designed to develop offensive toxic weapons.

In the process, he violated various international and local medical ethics codes.

The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) was investigating Basson’s conduct while he was head of the chemical and biological weapons programme.

According to the charge sheet, Basson, previously called “Dr Death” by the media, manufactured mandrax and ecstasy for the apartheid government.

The council was looking into six charges of unethical or unprofessional conduct relating to alleged human rights abuses Basson committed during the apartheid era. Charges were brought against him in 2007.

On Monday, the HPCSA decided not to proceed with some of the charges laid against Basson.

These included one relating to Basson accepting his appointment by the surgeon-general of the SA Defence Force as the apartheid-era germ warfare expert, heading Project Coast.

The council also dropped the third charge and elements of the second one. Both relate to tests conducted on members of the special forces troops and the SA Police Task Force.

Basson currently has a cardiology practice in Durbanville, Cape Town.

Last year, the High Court in Pretoria dismissed an application by Basson that would have prevented the HPCSA from continuing the inquiry.

Basson wanted the hearings to be found unlawful, unreasonable and unfair.

In April 2002, after a trial lasting 30 months, Basson was acquitted on more than 40 charges ranging from murder to fraud and drug dealing.

The state sought to appeal against the judgment, but the Supreme Court of Appeal refused to order a retrial in 2003.

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