Basson accused of selective amnesia

2012-03-27 22:52

Pretoria - Apartheid era germ warfare expert Wouter Basson was on Tuesday accused of lying, distorting the truth, being obstructive and trying to rely on amnesia when it suited him.

Basson, who practises as a cardiologist in Cape Town, is fighting charges of unethical and unprofessional conduct before a professional conduct committee of the Health Professions Council.

It is alleged that he had acted unethically while he was the project leader of the Defence Force's chemical and biological warfare programme in the 1980s and early 1990s.

American medical ethics expert Prof Steven Miles earlier testified that Basson's involvement in the large scale manufacture of drugs and tear gas, putting tear gas in mortars, providing substances for across-the-border kidnappings and providing operatives with cyanide for suicide purposes, was unethical.

Salie Joubert, acting as pro forma complainant, on Tuesday hammered Basson with questions about his involvement in the project as a medical doctor.

Basson accepted that he had been registered as a medical doctor while he headed the project, but maintained he had acted as a soldier and not a doctor and that he had used his chemical and military knowledge rather than his knowledge as a medical doctor.

"It does not mean I practised as physician. I spent two and a half years of my life being trained as a soldier. I even acted as a bomb disposal expert," he said.

He denied trying to play on the tribunal's emotions by showing a video clip of a civilian being murdered when referring to his co-operation with the police by supplying them with tear gas for crowd control.

He admitted that an attack on a civilian was not a chemical attack, but denied approving as a doctor the use of "chemical weapons" (in the form of tear gas) on the civilian population.

"The police have been bombarding the population with tear gas over the past three days even though there was not any chemical attack," he said.

Basson earlier testified that he had co-operated with the police by supplying them with tons of tear gas manufactured by the project for crowd control, but said that decision should be seen in the context of the "mad times" of the 1980s.

He also admitted that Angolan rebel movement leader Jonas Savimbi had been supplied with mortars armed with tear gas manufactured by the project, but insisted the aim was to protect the South African soldiers who were always with Savimbi and allow Savimbi to escape in an attack situation.

He denied trying to create the impression during his criminal trial (he was acquitted ten years ago) that the tear gas manufactured by the project were poisonous.

"We had no lethal weapons. We had a lot of deadly chemicals, but it was used for testing," he said.

Regarded as a threat

Basson testified that he had been under the command of the surgeon general and a co-ordinating committee at all times, but admitted that some of his orders came directly from the head of the Defence Force and other top officers.

He said General Neil Knobel, who was the surgeon general in the mid 1980s was sometimes sent out during top secret meetings with the Defence Force top brass and he remembered Knobel had problems with the command structures and selective orders that were given.

"I remember telling him I'm tired of having 120 bosses," he said.

Asked if he appreciated that Knobel was concerned that he was being given orders that did not fit in with his ethics as a medical doctor, Basson answered that he had never violated his feelings about ethics in his actions both as a doctor and soldier.

"What I did was not unethical. Those substances [such as mandrax, cocaine and tear gas] did not have the potential to kill. "The intention has to be kept in mind.. Those substances were less toxic than paracetamol. I had no moral or ethical objections against it... The purpose was to save lives and minimise loss of life," he said.

Joubert accused Basson of lying to the commission in his plea explanation, in which he said all drugs manufactured by the project were for research purposes and were never used in combat situations, but Basson denied lying and said his plea only contained what he thought was necessary.

Joubert put it to Basson that the mortars supplied to Savimbi had been imported from Israel, that the tear gas canisters were manufactured with Brazilian steel and the fuses came from China so that it could not be traced back to South Africa.

"The only conclusion is that those untraceable mortars were also used to break up crowds somewhere in South Africa.. They were waging chemical war against the population which they now want to justify.

"This is the type of chemical war on the population of this country you supported as a medical doctor," Joubert said.

Basson replied that the mortars used in Angola had absolutely nothing to do with crowd control in South Africa and that he had no say in the head of the Defence Force's decision to supply the mortars and tear gas to Savimbi.

Joubert earlier also put it to Basson that he was telling half truths about the reasons why former president Nelson Mandela had decided to re-employ him as a civilian in the Defence Force in 1995.

Basson said the reason was because the Americans and British governments had regarded him as a threat and wanted to employ him as a chemical and biological warfare consultant to contain him.

Joubert put it to him that the Americans and British feared that Basson would supply information to the Libyans and had asked former president Mandela to restrict Basson's movements, but that Mandela had refused because he had fought restrictions his whole life.

Joubert said the surgeon general had then suggested to Mandela that Basson should be re-employed in the military to contain him.

The hearing will continue on Wednesday.

  • gillian.sabino1 - 2012-03-27 23:00

    My hubbie says that everything that Basson did is justified by the declaration of the anc's armed struggle in 1957. Armed Struggle means Armed Response, and that goes to medical warfare too. The anc did not try to shoot him with vitamins!

      Luviwe - 2012-03-27 23:10

      Leave the hubbie, what do you say? Those teargasses were used in Angola of which you had an input. As a doctor you betrayed your oath.

      John - 2012-03-28 01:10

      Teargas is not lethal and cannot be regarded as a "weapon of war", plus it is still used by the ANC government to this day.

      thulanit3 - 2012-03-28 04:44

      Clearly his interest was on riddance of black people,,,thats why he worked for th cruel apartheid gov,,,he should not claim to be coessed,,,he wanted to be murderer,,,working for th downpressors...We will always view him as a professional murderer,,,and that what he is,,,!

  • gillian.sabino1 - 2012-03-27 23:06

    What about Dr Nkosasana Zuma? She tried to kill 5 Million South Africans suffering from Aids with Virodene = Benzene! Being a medical doctor, she can not claim ignorance of the effect of Virodene on the body. O ris her medical doctorate false? She was the Minister of Health!

      Luviwe - 2012-03-27 23:37

      Two wrongs don't make it right. White people defend anything as long it is white by comparing with what black people did. BTW I never mentioned Dr Zuma in my coment. She was not involved in manufacturing those tablets, unlike your angel Dr Death.

      John - 2012-03-28 01:16

      Luviwe... So you saying its alright for a doctor to kill someone with poison, as long as they don't manufacture it?? Basson has been tried in just about every court in this land, on hundreds of charges, and hasn't been found guilty or charged on any of them.... Doesn't that tell you something...

      Luviwe - 2012-03-28 01:35

      @John. that is wrong, but you can also alude to my first sentence. At least we agree that he had killed people if I get you right. Now the question that must be answered without refering and comparing him to other people. Was that for or against professional conduct and the oath of his professional body? Once we answer that honestly we will get somehwere without this racial slander we had subjected oursrlves to. I hope the council might have a space for people like you to foward their complaints on issues you feel stronly about like this one of Dr Zuma.

      Neutedop - 2012-03-28 07:59

      Luviwe. Does teargas kill? Does mandrax kill (in moderate use)? He was told by the goverment to manufacture something. In those days you would dissapear if you did not do what goverment asked (I thought people of that time should know this). He did not kill anybody - teargas is still being used last week with the protest. Sue the manufacturer of that as well??

  • Koos - 2012-03-27 23:33

    And the Americans are angels, né prof Miles. Quite interesting that an American need to come and tell us about ethics. Can't they find a ancRSTOR to speak about ethics?

      John - 2012-03-28 01:22

      They had a South African specialist testify against Basson, and under cross examination conceding that Basson had not acted un-ethically. If you read up on the back ground of Prof Miles you will find an absolutely biased man, with "connections". The other point is that the accusations never held up in a court of law, but were stated and used as "fact" by Miles

      Luviwe - 2012-03-28 01:40

      @john, this is not a criminal matter now. It is about whether he acted within the guidelines of his profession which one of them is to preserve life.

      John - 2012-03-28 04:10

      @Koos, Americans talking about "Ethics" holy crap, they've got a nerve. Prof. Miles tell us about all the ethics behind "Agent Orange" which is still affecting people in Vietnam TODAY!!!!!!

      John - 2012-03-28 04:16

      Oh, and while you are about it Prof. Miles who supplied Saddam Hussein with the gas he killed 5000 Kurds with, where was it developed? You sanctimonious Pr!ck

      Oom - 2012-03-28 06:03

      One thing that is often not mentioned is that it was the US government that had meetings with Pik Botha, requesting that South Africa send troops into Angola to fight the communists. Given the fact that the US invented the most dangerous weapons known to man to kill people in the communist regime, that hardly puts them in the position to lecture us about ethics. Pot calling the kettle black

  • thulanit3 - 2012-03-28 03:35

    The hpcsa shud really stop this man from ever practicing again,,,clearly his medical/biological/chemical knowledge was used for massive destruction of black population,,,His hatred for black people dictated over the ethical conduct stipulated by hpcsa/hipocratic oath..He worked passionately for th apartheid government as a professional mass murderer, putting black people to extinction. We dont mind losing him to overseas.

      John - 2012-03-28 06:32

      "He worked passionately for th apartheid government as a professional mass murderer, putting black people to extinction" He obviously wasn't very successful....

      Brett - 2012-03-28 13:07

      Can you mention one black person that he killed? You are so brainwashed by your "leaders".

  • daryn.wickham - 2012-03-28 05:17

    Why are they still bugging this VERY GOOD doc, Where is Winne being put on trial for burning Stompie alive. Where are all the other Doctors that were involved, they must also be questioned. This is just an excuse to attack the Whites AGAIN. Let it go now FFS, Americans did plenty of warefare and torture (Osama Bin Laden) and the British started concentration camps, which Hitler then used.!!! And I can garantee Lybia has a stash of chemical weapons they made without our help. There are plenty terrorists in that area.

      John - 2012-03-28 05:48

      Hey Daryn, haven't seen you before on News24 comments. You go boy.

      bluzulu - 2012-03-28 06:54

      Good point Daryn, All medical professionals that acquired "Disposable Ethics" during the Apartheid era must front this council as well. Lighter and darker shades of Brown. Where is the guarantee/evidence of Libyan weapons. You obviously know more that most on this planet as this has never been reported ( OH this is like the "Weapons of Mass destruction" theory. We all know how that unfolded. South Africans have better moral standards than the US. Utilizing the US as an example is never a good idea.

      Hugh - 2012-03-28 10:07

      Malusi, so if you're a Dr in a War zone, you may not defend yourself with maximum force? If you're attacked by a tik enraged psycho, you may not defend yourself? BS mate, Soldiers are not there playing tiddlywinks. He did what any patriot would do under the attack of communist dictatorships, stuff all to do with ethics, and anyway, I've tasted that sh1t he made and it wasn't all that bad.

  • Corne - 2012-03-28 05:40

    The HPCSA's record in disciplining unethical doctors is such that he will probably get a slap on the writ, so why is the time and effort wasted on this?

  • braamc - 2012-03-28 06:18

    This man is simply to clever for the system!

  • Rob - 2012-03-28 07:18

    Does this mean that there will be no street named after him ? Stouter Wouter !

  • Andrew - 2012-03-28 07:51

    All these happenings occurred during a terrible time in South Africas history and the Government of the day were defending a country (wrongly or rightly) against their perception of terrorists. Since that time many people were granted amnesty on both sides for actions taken during that period. The question now is he a good doctor - cardiologist serving all persons or not, we all know how short this country is of skilled people. A further question in my mind is why do we need, take the word of an American, we have all seen and heard of many wrongdoings by American soldiers in other parts of the world. Coupled with the fact the Americans were encouraging the incursions into Angola at that time but pulled out when questions were being asked. Are Americans always to be believed, I dont think so.

  • Ian - 2012-03-28 07:55

    sounds kind of like shaikalitis, same thing

  • Ian - 2012-03-28 07:58

    oh and course selibilitis, they only get sick when they have been busted

  • stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-03-28 08:16

    In the mean time Basson's patients in Cape Town are waiting for their heart surgery while he has to defend himself for the umpteenth time in court.

  • Lambert - 2012-03-28 09:00

    The purpose of the HPC with this witchunt is to prevent Dr Wouter Basson from further practicing medicine. If that is what they are trying to achieve they surely must realize that dr Basson has a practice in Durbanville with a great many patients. I am one of them. Should they succeed in this witchhunt they must be prepared to face reality. They are putting all his patients at risk. I for one will not stand by and let this happen. Mr Joubert & co please be aware that a possible class action against you and the HPC may be the consequence of your irresponsible act.

  • daryn.wickham - 2012-03-28 09:00

    @Malusi - You have obviously never been to the army, or ever involved with the armed forces. You take orders that's how it works even the Pastors, may have to shoot if necessary. People like you will keep racisim alive an well in SA. Why because you just can not let go, 18 years of democracy and the same boring drum is beating.

  • Manu - 2012-03-28 09:57

    The hypocrisy here is astounding. Let us take a doctor who has an affair with a patient. That is considered misconduct that will certainly lead to a loss of licence to practice. Now I read his wikipedia page. Really this is the man people feel is treated unfairly? Please Here is a doctor who was engaged in warfare activities and the development of substances that could and were used as weapons. What kind of doctor is this? If anything they have been lenient in letting him practice. I certainly wouldn't want to be treated by such a person.

      John - 2012-03-28 10:09

      You couldn't afford to be treated by such a person, Manu-re

      Manu - 2012-03-28 11:16

      Well JohnB with that pointless comment you set yourself out as a low class individual. You couldn't handle the facts. Do you think that whether I have or do not have money makes Basson or you for that matter a better person?

      John - 2012-03-28 16:12

      Well at least I'm not the one who is faceless, you obviously can't afford to have an avatar, need some help! FB has a help line for the uneducated low class. Stick your head back into the sand. get a face so people can see what a pile of Manure looks like.

      Manu - 2012-03-29 11:13

      JohnB, So you want to know what I look so that you can judge me by my appearance? And then what? Are the contents of my arguments not enough for you? Very well I am going to treat you the same way you are treating me ... I am going to judge you by your appearance. What I see in your avatar is a fat old white man (quite possibly a bitter one too). I guess that says it all ... oh no I mentioned your race, I guess now you are going to accuse me of being racist. LOL

      daryn.wickham - 2012-03-29 17:20

      He was a doc paid by the government to do a job, or be killed for not following orders.

  • Matthew - 2012-03-28 10:34

    leave him alone and move on. this is only wasting time for everyone he was under orders and did as he was commanded as did countless others under the defence force why target this guy when you should be going after the guys that gave the orders. target the puppet masters not the puppets =/ this is all so stupid.waste of time and tax payers money

      daryn.wickham - 2012-03-29 17:29

      Exactly Matthew, and its amazing how they find time to do all this rubbish, yet the homelessness and medical and educational and housing issues persist.

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