Young, inexperienced ‘Dr Death’ was following orders – Basson lawyer

2013-11-15 15:02

Dr Wouter Basson was a young and inexperienced doctor who was merely following orders when he manufactured and supplied poisonous substances which were used to drug people for the purpose of arresting them, the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) tribunal has heard.

Advocate Jaap Cilliers, who is representing Basson at the hearing where he faces charges relating to unprofessional conduct, told the tribunal that his client “acted as a soldier and not as a medical doctor when he provided those substances”.

“Mr Basson was not practising as a medical doctor when he was the project officer for Project Coast (a chemical and biological warfare research unit of the South African Defence Force). So there was no doctor-patient relationship with the people on whom the substances were used,” he explained.

“What should Mr Basson have done when he was given an order as a soldier with knowledge of chemistry to supply a drug which will disorientate a person, for the purpose of arrest, who was planting bombs in South Africa?”

But the chairperson of the tribunal, Professor Jannie Hugo, dismissed his submission saying Basson was a medical specialist at the time he was appointed as project officer for Project Coast, which meant he was experienced and knew the ethics of the profession.

The programme was used to manufacture poisonous substances that were used by the defence force to fight enemies of the state.

Hugo said: “The fact that he supplied these drugs to be used on cross-border grabs is a clear indication that the persons who were drugged did not give consent to have these drugs used on them.

“The drugs could have harmed the people as well,” Hugo said.

But Cilliers said: “These drugs were not intended to harm but disorientate a person for 30 to 60 seconds so that he could be arrested.”

The hearing continues.

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