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Wed Dec 07 20:17:07 CAT 2016

Basson no mere pawn in apartheid's war on freedom

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2011-09-28 00:05:40.0

The Times Editorial: Wouter Basson's name will always be synonymous with apartheid, irrespective of the fact that a court has acquitted him of charges of direct responsibility in its crimes.

Now, Basson, dubbed Dr Death for his association with the apartheid government's chemical warfare programme in the 1980s, is fighting to retain his livelihood as a physician.

Basson, who was once President PW Botha's physician, is currently the subject of a Health Professions' Council of SA inquiry into unethical conduct related to those 1980s government activities.

An observer recently asked whether Basson should not be allowed to continue his life, as have other apartheid collaborators who were let off the hook. In effect, for how long must he pay for his sins?

According to US ethics specialist Steven Miles at the Basson hearing yesterday, Basson's apartheid work violated the ethics of medicine. He used his medical skills and knowledge to develop poisons and biological weapons.

This is what makes a man like Wouter Basson morally repugnant. Instead of using his medical skills to save lives - of all South Africans - he is accused of seeking to destroy those who fought against the apartheid regime. And he has not shown remorse for his role in the regime - not during the truth commission and not during his trial almost 10 years ago.

There are many South Africans who have developed amnesia about apartheid and have shed their apartheid role and redefined themselves for the democratic era - ask former president FW de Klerk. There are also very few people who would admit today, though they might not have actively upheld the unjust regime, that they profited from it.

Basson's role was certainly not that of helpless bystander in a grand plan devised by men with a power complex. He was one of those men of power.

He should not be allowed to pretend that he is just another medical practitioner.

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