Basson in high court over HPCSA conduct committee

Judge Bert Bam is expected to hear an application by cardiologist Dr Wouter Basson at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria today to remove two members of an Health Professions Council of South Africa committee sentencing him for unprofessional conduct.

Bam is scheduled to hear the matter at 11am.

Yesterday, the HPCSA filed answering affidavits to the apartheid-era warfare chemical expert’s application.

Basson secured an interdict on Monday, stopping his hearing at the HPCSA offices in Pretoria.

The cardiologist wants information on the HPCSA’s professional conduct committee’s chairperson Professor Jannie Hugo and Professor Eddie Mahlangu. He wants to determine if they are members of any organisations that endorsed a petition calling for his removal from the register of medical practitioners.

Basson wants Hugo and Mahlangu to be prohibited from proceeding with the sentencing pending finalisation of their recusal application.

On Monday, the first day of sentencing proceedings, Basson and his counsel Jaap Cilliers walked out to lodge the high court application.

Cilliers said the defence had information that Hugo signed a petition calling for Basson to be struck from the medical practitioners’ register.

Basson was found guilty of unprofessional conduct by the HPCSA in December 2013, following an eight-year long inquiry.

The HPCSA inquiry was held to determine whether Basson acted unethically during his work on the apartheid government’s chemical and biological weapons project, Project Coast, during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Basson, in his defence, claimed he acted as a soldier and not a doctor.

Basson 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 making cyanide capsules available for distribution to operatives for use in committing suicide.

In 2002, Basson was acquitted by the North Gauteng High Court of criminal charges arising from his conduct.

The HPCSA reviewed the judgment to establish if there were grounds to hold an inquiry. The state appealed against the decision of the high court in the Supreme Court of Appeal, but the appeal was dismissed.

The state then went to the Constitutional Court, but that case was dismissed in September 2005.

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