Dr Basson, what of Hippocrates?

2012-03-31 10:00

‘I will prescribe regimens for the good of my ­patients according to my ability and my judgement, and never do harm to anyone. I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel.”

So reads a classical translation of the Hippocratic Oath, the creed by which doctors still swear by when they qualify.

Is it any small wonder that cardiologist and apartheid chemical warfare mastermind Wouter Basson has faced incredulity this week?

He has argued before the Health Professions Council, which is seeking to prove that he acted unethically during apartheid, that he was a soldier and not a doctor when he used his skill to concoct killer drugs for use against the liberation forces.

Yet he was registered as a doctor at the time. Experts argued this week that he acted unethically and in violation of the oath he took to use his wonderful skills to heal and not to hurt.

Instead, Basson was the progenitor of tear gas used to disperse thousands of protests as the ­anti-apartheid movement gathered steam; he ­provided apartheid’s soldiers with cyanide ­capsules to assist their suicides if captured; he put gas into mortars to amplify the harm.

His evidence this week revealed Basson to be a man who has learnt not a jot from the spirit of reconciliation.

We hope the council is guided by a search for truth and justice as it deliberates on his future in a profession whose oath he has clearly violated.

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