Basson: I received orders from 120 bosses

2012-03-28 22:47

Pretoria - Apartheid-era chemical warfare expert Wouter Basson had no reason to believe that he was taking part in a criminal operation when he supplied the police and security forces with substances for across-border snatch operations, he told a professional conduct committee on Wednesday.

The Cape Town cardiologist, who is facing charges of unethical and unprofessional conduct before the Health Professions Council, said he had acted as a special forces soldier and not a medical doctor when he attended meetings at which the supply of the substances were discussed.

"There's a senior police general who makes an official request...I'm there as a citizen of the country... He comes with the sanction of the government. As far as we were concerned as soldiers it was perfectly legitimate.

"...I was a 33-year-old Lieutenant Colonel in the defence force. I accepted it was bona fide and correct. I had no reason to think it was not legitimate."

He denied that he had attended the meetings as a military doctor or that he was specifically appointed as project leader of the defence force's chemical warfare programme (Project Coast) because of his medical skills and knowledge.

He also denied that the substances he provided had ever been used in the form of an injection, saying if one could get close enough to inject someone, one might as well have gagged and bound him up before bringing him back.

The operatives were not stupid and it was up to them to decide how to use the substances.

He denied using his medical training to study the effect of such substances and said it was tested by veterinary surgeons at the University of Pretoria.

Sophisticated chemistry

"That was highly sophisticated chemistry. It's not possible for a doctor or even a pharmacologist to synthesise those chemicals," he said.

Salie Joubert, for the pro forma complainant, put it to Basson that he had a medical and a master's degree and knew one could go across the border to kidnap someone.

He also put it to Basson that the reason why the project was under the leadership of the surgeon general was because of his medical knowledge of physiology and chemistry.

Basson replied that he had no involvement as a medical doctor.

He earlier admitted that he had maintained his registration as a medical doctor throughout his period as project leader, but said he had not practised as a doctor in that period.

Basson denied that the teargas supplied to Unita leader Jonas Savimbi and the police had any harmful or lasting effects.

He said there was no scientific basis for a medical journal article which mentioned blistering skin burns, severe toxic injuries, lung damage and heart failure as some of the possible side-effects.

He said they had gone to great trouble to develop smoke that did not cause lung damage.

"...It was tested in high doses and caused no harm to primates," he said.

He admitted that the effect could make a person "want to go home and die", but said it had no permanent or long-term effects and merely broke the cohesion of a crowd when used in unrest situations.

Basson testified that the project had tested substances such as cocaine and Mandrax on a large scale with the idea to weaponise it for crowd control.

He said large number of derivatives were produced and would likely have been placed in hand grenades, but the project never went that far.

According to Basson, the project had supplied the police with hundreds of thousand of "blank" or fake Mandrax tablets which looked like the real thing so that they could infiltrate a Mandrax smuggling network.

120 bosses

"...I was a soldier and part-time policeman. I received orders from 120 bosses...

"Certainly some of the Coast technology was used, but the purpose had nothing to do with Coast," he said.

A lengthy legal battle earlier in the morning about Joubert's allegations that Basson and the defence force had waged a "chemical war" on the South African population ended rather undramatically when the committee ruled that it was a matter for legal argument.

Basson's advocate Jaap Cilliers at one stage said he thought he was "from a different planet" than Joubert.

He said what Joubert was suggesting was that Basson waged a chemical war because he was involved in the manufacture of teargas.

"...We've seen teargas being used to control riots over the past few days. Is he [Joubert] suggesting that he can now put it to the present government that they're waging chemical war against the population because they used teargas? It's totally ridiculous," he said.

The hearing continues.

  • Koos - 2012-03-28 23:12

    What a nice day today. I'll rather have Doctor Basson when I'm in need of a top class surgeon.

      Oom - 2012-03-29 03:29

      Why not a BEE appointee?

      paulmandlankosi - 2012-03-29 08:15

      Is he a surgeon, please improve your general knowledge? You are too ignorant

      Koos - 2012-03-29 08:28

      Competance springs to mind. Would you?

      Christopher - 2012-03-29 10:56

      @paulmandl...Yes he is a surgeon and a brilliant one at that! Ignorance is bliss I see Paulmandlakosi.

  • Christo - 2012-03-28 23:28

    Ek dink hierdie verhoor is n pot strooi. Basson was eerstens n soldaat en dan n mediese Dr. So as iemand verhoor moet word is dit FW DE KLERK OF PW BOTHA want hulle was die opperhoofde van die weermag. Basson het opdragte uitgevoer. As hy dit nie gedoen het nie moes hy aangekla gewees het onder die regiment van dissipline? Nie nou na baie jare in n ope hof nie. Dis belaglik. Boonop het hy gedien onder President Mandela na 1994. Hoekom het Mandela hom dan nie laat aankla onder die RVD nie. Hy was dan die opperhoof van die weermag? Ek ruik n stink rot hier met die man se verhoor. Dis heeltemal misplaas.Ek wonder of Dr Basson bewus is van hoe die weermag se regstelsel werk? Hy moes eers voor n krygsraad verskyn het wat die saak na n opehof kon verwys het op meriete. Hy was nooit voor n krygsraad gedaag nie. Hierdie hele aangeleentheid word polities gedryf. Dr Basson is reg as hy se hy het 120 base gehad. Elke rang hoer as hy was sy baas. Hy moes opdragte uitvoer. Punt!!!!!

      Wilma Crous - 2012-03-28 23:37

      Agree!! He was following orders!! Y aren't they targeting the Piks & the PW's? Y just Basson?! Poor man, how much longer will this go on for him?

      Koos - 2012-03-28 23:51

      Die probleem is dat hy wit is, die hoogste rang in die weermag het en na regte die hoof van die weermag moet wees.

  • Lynda - 2012-03-28 23:39

    fascinating lets get on to the subject of viruses

  • Howard - 2012-03-29 00:28

    He did nothing wrong in the circumstances

  • Ian - 2012-03-29 01:55

    Mr Basson, did you ever provide the SADF troops with substances to improve their ability to be better killing machines? Did you ever give the enemy of the day substances to provide information or their ability to progress your own medical career? Did you ever just test your potions on anyone for your own benefit and progression? Did you ever just test them on yourself? You are no better than a grave robber or Josef Rudolf Mengele.

      Ian - 2012-03-29 01:56

      And Remember your words spoken...IswearbyApollothehealer,Asclepius,Hygieia,andPanacea,andItaketowitnessallthegods,allthegoddesses,tokeepaccordingtomyabilityandmyjudgment,thefollowingOathandagreement:Toconsiderdeartome,asmyparentshimwhotaughtmethisart;toliveinommonwithhimand,ifnecessary,tosharemyoodswith him;Tolookuponhischildrenasmyownbrothers,toteachthemthisart;andthatby myteaching,Iwillimpartaknowledgeofthisarttomyownsons,andtomyteacher'ssons,andtodisciplesboundbyanindentureandoathaccordintothemedicallaws,andothers. I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

      Ian - 2012-03-29 01:56

      But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts. I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art. In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves. All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal. If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all humanity and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my life.

      TaniaSandraSteyn - 2012-03-29 02:21

      Ability and judgment are the keywords, Ian. You can harm someone by preserving their life for personal gain. You can harm someone by forcing a person to give birth to a child she does not want, or be able to take care of. By the same oath, you can never remove kidney stones even if a patient is suffering on the battlefield. We are all all called to do things beyond our ken - and we should never hide behind ancient laws appplying to times when children were scarce, and diseases plentiful.

      Paddy - 2012-03-29 07:33

      I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no false gods before me.... You Ian, seem to swear by Apollo and others. Are you a Christian? Or just a god botherer?

      Richard - 2012-03-29 08:44

      And Ian, you are ignorant.

      Christopher - 2012-03-29 10:59 this a chip on your shoulder? you seem to be jeolous of The Dr. Did he get higher marks than you?

  • Badimo - 2012-03-29 03:06

    black ppl suck if they are not going to do sh*t about what happedned to them, they must just shut the **** up.i hate this "we got oppresed" bull.they must stop with this celebrations too they are annoying.always playing the victim card without realising how weak they are portraying themselves nxa

      nkhase - 2012-03-29 08:09

      ur right badimo realy blacks should do something about what happened to them and stop these million-rands costing celebrations for 'few connected'capitalists.

  • Pieter - 2012-03-29 03:44

    Dr Basson het my lewe gered, hy was my dokter met die inplanting van 'n greenfield (vena cava filter) toe hy my vir long embolisme behandel het. Hy het my weer hoop op 'n nuwe lewe gegee en ek is vandag gesond danksy sy kennis en ervaring. Hy is 'n briljante dokter en ek het die hoogste agting vir hom as mens en as dokter. Wat gaan aan met ons mense? Kan ons bekostig om sulke briljante mense te verloor? Hoeveel lewens het hy al gered en lewenskwaliteit verbeter? Skaam die wat hom wil vervolg, maar ek sal vir jou bid Wouter... want die aanslag van die bose hier gaan 'n groot beproewing wees.

      John - 2012-03-29 04:57

      @Michael, and you can prove this how? If you could, which I seriously doubt, why is he then not being charged for murder? Better still why aren't you at the hearings because you would be a vital living witness. You're clutching at straws and another one who will stop at nothing to throw the old race card, bugger off back to your racist den, idiot. The way I see it is, Wouter Basson is a respected surgeon and you are probably some university dropout with a huge chip on your racist shoulder.

      John - 2012-03-29 05:02

      @Michael, I would rather go along with Pieter's testimony than yours. His admiration of WB can at least be proved and guess what he's not a racist! Wan&er.

      Pieter - 2012-04-02 08:41

      Die @Michael het koue voete gekry, hy het sy antwoord delete. Die antwoorde hier is van toepassing op sy ongegronde stellings wat hy gemaak het.

  • justin.wimbush1 - 2012-03-29 05:25

    HIV originated from a virus transferred from an ape to humans. Not content with only raping old grannies and babies, the black man set upon screwing the apes as well. Would have though the apes would be more selective than lower their standards...!!

      Eddie Dewa - 2012-03-29 05:47


      Kevin - 2012-03-29 06:21

      Rest my case . From ape to human

      Jan Svensson - 2012-03-29 07:02

      Jan Svensson - 2012-03-29 07:03

      bluzulu - 2012-03-29 07:03

      Dipstick theory,

      Jan Svensson - 2012-03-29 07:03

      Herman - 2012-03-29 08:13

      @ Kevin - you got it all wrong - it is from human to ape!

  • Michael - 2012-03-29 06:08

    Whoever is trying to pin these charges on Basson will have their work cut out for them, it's not going to be an easy tast. Basson is a very smart fellow. The TRC (for what it was worth) couldn't crack him and I doubt very much that we have anyone nearly clever enough to match this chap, Basson is a very slippery customer.

      Trudy - 2012-03-29 08:03

      Michael that does not sound like a compliment to me. What you describe is a sly, underhanded person.

  • Lauden Kirk - 2012-03-29 07:14

    I recall the old gov ordering him. So I think the ANC has the wrong guy. Of the ANC holds a gun at my head and tell me to murder zilla I would have to do it and also take the rap for it. The old gov spondered all the cash and ran. Then they left us to rot. They used us then dropped us and put a black guy in power then ended up blaming him for the bad job he did. Look at the USA. Bad white guy BUSH then great black guy Obama with all the problems.

  • Jabu - 2012-03-29 08:03

    Where is Chris mahlangu to close this case!.

  • Bandile - 2012-03-29 08:04

    Bluzulu, but when black rule came, Vinesh Naidoo aka Bluzulu fled to New Zealand, but he stayed in SA under apartheid.

      bluzulu - 2012-03-29 08:20

      @ Bandile, I have explained why I am temporarily not in RSA currently.

  • Chris - 2012-03-29 08:22

    The man is a genius....You should read more into depth of what he was capable of. And besides...he only followed orders. @Azanian...I suppose we should let Malema apologize too, convict him for hate speech and move on...remove him from serving the new SA...oh wait...already removed by his own! PRICK

  • Andrew - 2012-03-29 08:25

    For such a clever guy, Basson sure knows how to act dumb when it suits real doctor would ever behave the way he did and still does. He is the "Anti-doctor"!!

  • Archie - 2012-03-29 08:38

    Why is Mbeki and the ANC not on trial for killing approx 350,000 people through AIDS denial.i bet thats a hell of a lot more than ever were harmed by the old NATS and Dr Basson.Come on guys move on and get a life,this is all dirty politics.

  • isaac.nkwaliyenkosi - 2012-03-29 09:11

    We are a Rainbow Nation and we need peace and development for all of us in this country, but according to the comments on this story we are still very far from being a Rainbow Nation, because we lack good leadership........

  • Manu - 2012-03-29 11:58

    If this man is so smart then why is he using such stupid arguments. Argument 1: "I was acting in my capacity as a soldier and not a doctor" Using this logic if a policeman commits a crime then he can argue that he wasn't contravening his oath of service because at the time of the crime he was acting as a criminal and not as a policeman and therefore he should still be allowed to work as a policeman. Yeah right! Argument 2: I was following orders ... ... and therefore you switched off your conscience and your ethics ... let's hope it won't happen again. A doctor admitting to allowing himself to be used as a weapon. Wonderful. Argument 3: It was a war situation. So medical ethics do not apply during war time? Argument 4: It was just tear gas and cyanide capsules How many doctors occupy themselves in this activity? It's like a policeman who argues "I had to break the law to preserve the law" Argument 5: We tried different substances to cause harm but we never weaponised it What? Why would you, a doctor, even be involved in stuff like this? How many doctors go about devising novel ways of harming people? Argument 6: It wasn't chemical warfare To the best of my knowledge tear gas doesn't occur naturally. It has to be chemically manufactured. So the good doctor was involved in the manufacture of chemicals against crowds. We are told that all this happened in the context of apartheid so that makes the crowd the enemy. Using chemicals against your enemies is chemical warfare.

      Luvo - 2012-03-29 17:19

      Wise words from a sober human being. Big up!!

  • stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-03-29 12:38

    I wish they would leave this competent cardiologist alone so that he can go back to his practice in Cape Town and save lives. For goodness sake, it's 2012; why are people still digging around in the 80's?? Let's move on!

  • gailcarolynhayes - 2012-03-31 09:08

    Dr Basson is a brilliant man and Doctor who could have left SA and avoided the war had his father a SAP not persuaded him to stay and serve his country first assuring him that he would bring influence to bear so that he would be practising in his capacity as a medical doctor. He obeyed his father reluctantly as he had a post in Britain at the time and the military used him in the way they used so many reluctant conscripted white schoolboys just out of school. This is a witch hunt to divert attention from all the corruption and ineptitude of the current government and not a defence of apartheid which I voted against on principle from the time I was eligible. President GWBush should have consulted him before invading Iraq and there wouldn't be a recession and chaos still in Iraq since Basson told us before they invaded that there were no weapons of mass destruction - he spent 4 years in Iraq.

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