Basson shifted blame - health council

2013-11-14 18:48
(Picture: Foto24)

(Picture: Foto24)

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Pretoria - Dr Wouter Basson shifted the blame in his evidence before an inquiry into his conduct, the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) said on Thursday.

"Dr... Basson presented distorted evidence and shifted the blame," said Salie Joubert, for the HPCSA.

Basson is the former head of the apartheid government’s secret chemical and biological warfare project.

Expert evidence by Professor Steven Haverstock Miles, an expert in medical ethics called on by the HPCSA, showed the extent of unethical conduct by Basson, said Joubert.

Joubert read out portions of Miles's evidence, in which he said: "Dr Basson was not merely a weapons producer. He also took these weapons, prepared them for specific battle use, went to the battle side with weapons of his own design and oversaw the military use in violation of the Geneva 1925 Protocol or at least his obligations within that framework."

Joubert said Basson had a selective memory and had contradicted himself.

He said it was unfortunate that former surgeon general General Daniel Pieter Knobel got involved in the matter.

Knobel testified for the defence as an expert and also gave evidence about his involvement in Project Coast at the time that he headed the SA Medical Services.

Project Coast was a secret biological and chemical warfare research project during the apartheid years. Basson was the project officer.

"Gen[eral] Knobel's evidence cannot be relied on. It is such a tragedy and unfortunate that Knobel rejected the principles of his profession," said Joubert.

Apartheid government

The charges against Basson arise from his involvement in the apartheid government's chemical and biological warfare programme in the 1980s and early 1990s.

He is 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 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 against Basson.

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

The State then went to the Constitutional Court to appeal the decision. This was also dismissed in September 2005.

Read more on:    hpcsa  |  wouter basson

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