Court dismisses Basson application to stop inquiry

2010-06-29 12:18

An appeal application by former apartheid-era germ warfare expert

Wouter Basson to overturn a court ruling allowing the Health Professions Council

of SA (HPCSA) to continue probing his conduct was dismissed by the Pretoria High

Court today.

In dismissing the application with costs, Judge Eberhard

Bertelsmann reinforced a previous judgment that there was no indication that

HPCSA registrar and chief executive officer Boyce Mkhize tried to influence

investigations to find Basson guilty of unethical behaviour.

The HPCSA has, for the past 10 years, investigated Basson, who

headed Project Coast, the apartheid government’s biological and chemical weapons

programme.

The cardiologist was acquitted in 2002 on criminal charges.

Basson claims the inquiry is procedurally unfair and a “witch

hunt”.

Yesterday, his counsel Jaap Cilliers argued that Mkhize had

influenced investigations, a claim which was described as “absolutely

preposterous” by the HPCSA’s counsel Gilbert Marcus.

Marcus said that the granting of leave to appeal would “prevent

internal organs from reaching the end of their destinations”.

Marcus said: “They (Basson and his legal team) are just trying to

frustrate the process. The argument is utterly without merit and should be

dismissed as such. It is ill-conceived and hopeless.”

He said the charge of unethical conduct was serious. However, he

emphasised that the intention was not to pre-judge the outcome. It was the

council’s legal mandate as a statutory body to protect the public.

Basson, who was not at the ruling, now had two options – either to

accept the judgment and deal with the HPCSA internal disciplinary process or to

approach the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, the HPCSA’s general manager of legal services advocate

Tshepo Bokganyo, said he was happy with the outcome of the case: “We’ll now set

our wheels in motion and continue with the prosecution of Dr Basson. He will

have a fair opportunity in presenting his case at the professional conduct

inquiry.”


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