Wouter ‘Dr Death’ Basson challenges tribunal's partiality

09 February 2016 - 22:17 By Sipho Masombuka
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Wouter Basson.
Wouter Basson.
Image: Reuters

Ex-apartheid chemical warfare expert dubbed “Dr Death”‚ Wouter Basson‚ has accused the Health Professions Council of SA's tribunal that found him guilty of unethical conduct of being biased.

His legal team told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday that the chairperson of the professional conduct committee‚ Professor Jannie Hugo‚ was not forthright about his membership of SA Medical Association‚ one of the 27 organisations that called for Basson's removal from the roll of medical practitioners.

Advocate Jaap Cilliers SC‚ for Basson‚ argued that though Hugo acknowledged his SAMA membership‚ he did not disclose this at the time of a petition calling for the harshest sentence possible against Basson but was instead “caught out”.

Basson approached the court to set aside the committee's ruling against his application for Hugo to recuse himself.

HPCSA lawyer‚ Advocate Sallie Joubert SC‚ argued that the professional conduct committee had internal appeal remedies that must be exhausted before rushing to court but Cilliers countered that it would be too late for Basson as he would have been possibly struck the roll of doctors by then.

Cilliers argued that the internal appeals process required that the matter be finalised before an appeal could be entertained.

“The main argument is that clearly the internal remedy process does not have powers at this stage‚ the only recourse is to approach the court‚” he said.

Basson was found guilty of unethical conduct in December 2013 for his role as head of the apartheid regime's chemical and biological warfare programme‚ code-named Project Coast‚ in the 1980s.

The programme manufactured Mandrax‚ cocaine and teargas in huge quantities. It also developed teargas-filled mortars for Unita to use in Angola.

Basson was also found guilty of providing disorientating substances for cross-border kidnapping and making cyanide capsules available for distribution.

He is yet to be sentenced in the matter that has been running for over eight years and cost the taxpayer more than R15-million in legal costs.

The case continues in the North Gauteng high court on Wednesday.

TMG Digital/The Times

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