Complaint about MEC’s past in struggle

2014-01-24 00:00

COMPLAINTS of apartheid crimes have been submitted to the Health Professions Council (HPCSA) against KwaZulu-Natal’s Health MEC and a former surgeon-general, following the precedent set during the ethics hearing of Dr Wouter Basson.

A disciplinary panel of the HPCSA will announce Basson’s punishment next month after he was earlier found guilty of unethical behaviour.

Seven doctors as well as AfriForum have meanwhile laid complaints against former surgeon-general Lieutenant-General Veejay Ramlakan and Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, KwaZulu-Natal’s MEC for Health.

The two received amnesty in 2001 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for planting bombs on the orders of Mkhonto Wesizwe (MK) in 1985.

Both Ramlakan and Dhlomo were practising as medical doctors at the time.

The new complaints do not refer to Basson’s case but only stipulate that Ramlakan and Dhlomo transgressed the bounds of ethical behaviour by planting bombs.

The charge by the seven doctors states that Ramlakan had admitted he was involved in planting an explosive device with the late politician Amichand Rajbansi. Ramlakan served four years of a 12-year sentence for the crime.

The findings of, and amnesty given, by the TRC now form the focus of the charge.

Ramlakan and Dhlomo told the TRC they were involved in Operation Butterfly as active members of the ANC and MK. This operation aimed to integrate the ANC’s political and armed struggles.

They were part of a group tasked to plant bombs at supermarkets, post offices and shops in the Durban area.

The TRC found in 2001 that the two were just foot soldiers following the orders of their superior officers. The commission had been satisfied that their actions, while reckless, were justifiable in the context of the fight for freedom against the former South African government.

The TRC found that while it was a tragedy that people were wounded and had died during the freedom struggle, this was a price paid by both sides.

Basson had, in his defence, also stated that he was just acting on orders from his superior officers while working as head of the chemical and biological weapons programme and that he was first and foremost a soldier, and then a doctor.

Basson also pointed out that no one had been wounded or had died as consequences of his actions.

The CEO of the HPCSA, advocate Tshepo Boikanyo, confirmed the council had received the complaint.

A prescribed legal process will be followed allowing the two doctors to submit documents in their defence. If the professional conduct committee of the board decides that there are grounds for prosecution, a hearing will be scheduled, Boikanyo said.

Basson said his legal team is preparing for the proceedings in February where the council will decide whether to remove him from the medical roll, or impose alternative punishment.

Basson had earlier said he had no plans or need to involve other doctors in similar ethics issues as he was charted on.

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