News24

Basson loses bid to end probe

2010-06-29 14:19

Pretoria - An appeal application by former apartheid-era germ warfare expert Wouter Basson to overturn a court ruling allowing the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) to continue probing his conduct, was dismissed by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

In dismissing the application with costs, Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann reinforced a previous judgment that there was no indication that HPCSA registrar and chief executive officer Boyce Mkhize tried to influence investigations to find Basson guilty of unethical behaviour.

"There is no prospect of this argument succeeding," he found.

The HPCSA has for the past 10 years investigated Basson, who headed Project Coast, the apartheid government's biological and chemical weapons programme.

The cardiologist was acquitted in 2002 on criminal charges.

Basson claims the inquiry is procedurally unfair and a "witch hunt".

On Monday, his counsel Jaap Cilliers argued that Mkhize had influenced investigations, a claim which was described as "absolutely preposterous" by the HPCSA's counsel Gilbert Marcus.

Marcus said that the granting of leave to appeal would "prevent internal organs from reaching the end of their destinations".

Serious charges

"They (Basson and his legal team) are just trying to frustrate the process... the argument is utterly without merit and should be dismissed as such... It is ill-conceived and hopeless," said Marcus.

He said the charge of unethical conduct was serious. However, he emphasised that the intention was not to pre-judge the outcome. It was the council's legal mandate as a statutory body to protect the public.

Basson, who was not at the ruling, now had two options, either to accept the judgment and deal with the HPCSA internal disciplinary process or to approach the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, the HPCSA's general manager of legal services advocate Tshepo Bokganyo said he was happy with the outcome of the case.

"We'll now set our wheels in motion and continue with the prosecution of Dr Basson. He will have a fair opportunity in presenting his case at the professional conduct inquiry," said Bokganyo.