Wouter Basson witness ‘won’t talk about Mandela meetings’

2013-07-17 15:04

A former SA Defence Force (SADF) surgeon-general has refused to divulge details of meetings and discussions he had with former president Nelson Mandela.

Dr Niel Knobel told Wouter Basson’s unethical conduct hearing at the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) today there was information he could not disclose as it was top secret.

“I may not refer to documents that are top secret and that could jeopardise South Africa’s position internationally, as well as compromise ... (former) president Mandela.

“Please understand my position as an officer who retains my ranks until the day I die and my commission stands. I am not going to jeopardise and I’m certainly not going to make any remarks about ... Mandela,” said Knobel.

The council’s professional conduct committee is holding a hearing into allegations of unethical conduct against Basson, a Cape Town cardiologist.

Earlier, Knobel said he had meetings with Mandela and noted there was a lot of interest among SADF members when he returned from the meetings, wanting to know what they had discussed.

An affidavit made by Knobel during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission proceedings was presented before the committee.

The affidavit is a statement regarding the chronology of events around the SADF’s chemical and biological weapons programme, with special reference to Basson’s role.

Knobel argued that he could not give evidence on the affidavit, as some of the appendices, which were supposed to be attached to it, were not available.

The charges against Basson arise from his involvement in the apartheid government’s chemical and biological warfare programme in the 1980s and early 1990s.

He is accused of acting unethically by being involved in the large-scale production of Mandrax, cocaine, and tear gas, of weaponising tear gas, and of supplying it to Angola’s Unita rebel leader Jonas Savimbi.

He is also accused of acting unethically by providing disorientating substances for cross-border kidnappings, and making cyanide capsules available for distribution to operatives for use in committing suicide.

In 2002, Basson was acquitted by the high court in Pretoria of criminal charges arising from his conduct.

The HPCSA reviewed the judgment to establish if there were grounds to continue with an inquiry against him.

The state appealed the high court decision in the Supreme Court of Appeal, but the appeal was dismissed. The state then went to the Constitutional Court to appeal the decision. That was also dismissed in September 2005.

In 2006, the HPCSA started its own process of investigating Basson’s conduct. A charge sheet was drawn up and the inquiry began in November 2007.

However, the inquiry was delayed when the HPCSA’s main expert witness fell ill. The inquiry resumed again in September 2008.

During the November 2008 hearing, Basson’s lawyers argued that the case brought against him was unlawful and biased.

Basson’s legal team then went to the high court in Pretoria to stop the inquiry. The matter was heard in the high court in 2010. The court dismissed Basson’s application in May 2010. The next month, Basson appealed the decision in the same court, but lost.

The hearing then resumed officially in September 2011. In January 2012, Basson brought another application before the HPCSA’s professional conduct committee to dismiss the matter. But this application was also dismissed.

The hearing continues tomorrow.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.