Basson 'acted as soldier'

2013-07-18 20:14
Wouter Basson (Picture: AFP)

Wouter Basson (Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pretoria - Former surgeon general Dr Niel Knobel insisted on Thursday that Dr Wouter Basson acted as a soldier when he headed South Africa's chemical and biological warfare programme in the 1980s.

Knobel concluded his evidence before the Health Professions Council of SA in a hearing on the ethical conduct of the Cape Town cardiologist.

Basson is accused of acting unethically by being involved in the large-scale production of Mandrax, cocaine and teargas, weaponising teargas and supplying it to Unita 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.

US medical ethics expert Prof Steven Miles previously testified that Basson had violated the laws of humanity and various World Medical Association declarations and regulations.

In contrast, Knobel said Basson was a soldier and not a doctor when he headed the chemical and biological warfare programme.

Knobel disagreed with Miles's view that once one was a doctor, one remained a doctor, and that Basson had made use of his medical knowledge and skills when he headed the programme.

Knobel said on Thursday there had been a real threat of Cubans, Russians and Angolans using chemical and biological substances against South Africa in the form of bombs in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

He said it would have been impossible to get a chemical and biological warfare programme off the ground without the input of medical doctors, which was why most of the people involved in the programme were in the medical field.

He said the project was aimed at using them in the development and use of weapons, to minimise injury and harm to humans.

Carried out orders

At the time, Basson was deployed by special forces as a soldier and not as a medical doctor, and there was no distinct indication of a doctor-patient relationship.

"A doctor is not only a doctor. He can also, for example, be a businessman or a rugby player. When special forces troops are deployed on the battlefield, a medic who carries a sidearm is deployed with them.

"If they're attacked, he fights as well... .When the battle is over, he will go to his and the enemy troops and determine how seriously they're injured.

"He treats those patients in front of him as patients. He doesn't even look if they're own or enemy troops. That's when there's a doctor-patient relationship," he said.

Basson has argued that the surgeon general at the time was in overall charge of the programme, and that he only carried out orders as a soldier.

A legal representative for Lt-Gen Vejaynand Ramlakan, who was the surgeon general for the SA National Defence Force between 2005 and March this year, indicated he would be "reluctant" to testify on Basson's behalf.

The hearing was told that Ramlakan had posed certain questions to Basson and his legal team, and would consider his position depending on the answers he received.

Final legal argument would be presented in the hearing in November.


Read more on:    sandf  |  wouter basson  |  health  |  military

Read News24’s Comments Policy 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
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300

Keep it together Text. Email. Social. With all the different ways to...

From R1399.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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 network.


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.