Wouter Basson ‘acted as a soldier, not a doctor’

2013-11-14 15:30

The pro forma complainant in the matter against Dr Wouter Basson has asked the disciplinary committee of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) to find Basson guilty of unprofessional conduct, saying he acted as a soldier and not as a doctor while he was employed by the South African Defence Force (SADF) as a physician.

Advocate Salie Joubert told the committee during closing arguments that Basson had admitted during a criminal trial in the North Gauteng High Court that he obtained poisonous drugs including cyanide which was given to commanders to dispense to soldier to use to commit suicide when caught in a mission.

He said: “For Dr Basson to say that he was following orders of the generals would be incorrect.

“He was employed as a doctor in the South African Defence Force. His duty was to save lives and not to take them,” he said.

Justifying his call for the committee to find Basson guilty, Joubert said: “Throughout his [Basson’s] evidence, he attempted to create the defence that he was acting as a soldier and not as a doctor.

“He conveyed an attitude of blaming others: ‘It was not my responsibility, I was only executing order.’

“It is therefore the respectful submission that Dr Basson in his endeavour to exonerate himself, failed dismally and was an unreliable witness,” he added.

Basson’s case is before the HPCSA for his alleged involvement in the chemical and biological warfare research commissioned by the SADF between 1981 until 1993. The research unit, code-named “Project Coast”, was a programme established by the South African apartheid government in 1981.

The programme was tasked with developing a range of chemical and biological substances intended for use against opponents of the regime.

Basson admitted during his criminal trial in the North Gauteng High Court in 1999, in which he was acquitted, that he did play a role in manufacturing poisonous substances for the defence force but he made it clear that he was following orders.

He has also pleaded not guilty to the four charges he is facing at the HPCSA.

The hearing continues.

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