HPCSA finds Basson guilty

2013-12-18 12:38
Wouter Basson (File,Phooto24)

Wouter Basson (File,Phooto24)

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

Pretoria - Apartheid-era chemical warfare expert Wouter Basson is guilty of unprofessional conduct, the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) ruled on Wednesday.

"In the light of all the circumstances, the breaches amount to unprofessional conduct... the respondent is guilty of unprofessional conduct," HPCSA professional conduct committee chair Jannie Hugo said in Pretoria.

He said no medical doctor could claim ignorance of their expected professional behaviour.

"The Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians and other healthcare professionals swearing to practice medicine honestly, and its subsequent versions, are based on the principles of putting the interests of patients first and are accepted universally," Hugo said.

The six-year-long inquiry related to Basson's involvement in Project Coast, a secret biological and chemical warfare research project which violated international protocols and conventions between the 1980s and early 1990s.

Basson, a cardiologist, was the project officer of Project Coast.

"During the 1980s, doctors in South Africa who remained true to their profession took a stance against military conscription. They also refused to declare to the police the identities of patients in their care, exactly on ethical grounds," said Hugo.

Basson had presented nine arguments at the inquiry in which he claimed he acted as a soldier and not a doctor, and that he was not aware of the relevant ethics.

He claimed the ethics in the 1980s were different from those of today. Hugo said the ethical norms of the 1980s were not significantly dissimilar to those applicable after 1990.

Mamelodi resident Lizzy Sefulo said she was satisfied with the guilty verdict.

"He is evil. I agree with the committee when they say as a doctor Basson was there to serve people, not kill them," she said.

Sefulo, 72, said her husband and three other anti-apartheid activists were drugged and tortured by security policemen in 1987. Their bodies were blown up in the former homeland of Bophuthatswana.

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

He was accused of acting unethically by being involved in the large-scale production of Mandrax, cocaine and teargas, of weaponising teargas, and of supplying it to Angola's Unita leader Jonas Savimbi.

He was accused of acting unethically by providing disorientating substances for cross-border kidnappings, and by 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 this decision in the Supreme Court of Appeal, but the appeal was dismissed.

Read more on:    hpcsa  |  wouter basson

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
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 24.com 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.