Basson outcome will set precedent - HPCSA hears

2015-01-19 15:43
Dr Wouter Basson (File: Sapa)

Dr Wouter Basson (File: Sapa)

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Pretoria - The hearing into the conduct of apartheid-era chemical warfare expert Wouter Basson would set standards for behaviour in the medical profession, the HPCSA heard on Monday.

"It is to be used in teaching materials. It will be used internationally," University of Cape Town lecturer and clinical pharmacologist, Professor Marc Blockman told a hearing before the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA).

"As this is the first case of its kind in South Africa. It will be a showcase to the world of the nature of the ethical standards applied by South African health professionals."

Blockman was called by the HPCSA to testify in mitigation of sentencing.

Salie Joubert, for the HPCSA asked Blockman how the medical fraternity considered the severity of the transgressions Basson has been found guilty of.

"The transgressions are certainly considered as extremely serious... it is important that a firm stance is taken as it will reflect adversely on the profession if it is not done," Blockman said.

The HPSCA inquiry was held to determine whether Basson acted unethically in the exercise of his duties as a chemical warfare expert.

In his defence, Basson presented nine arguments in which he claimed he acted as a soldier and not a doctor, and that he was not aware of the ethics.The inquiry related to Basson's involvement in Project Coast, between the 1980s and early 1990s.

Basson was 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 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 North Gauteng 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.

The State appealed against the decision of the high court in the Supreme Court of Appeal, but the appeal was dismissed.

The State then went to the Constitutional Court, but that case was dismissed in September 2005.

Read more on:    hpcsa  |  wouter basson  |  pretoria

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