Call for world body to sanction Basson
Johannesburg - The World Medical Association (WMA) must recommend that apartheid-era chemical warfare expert Dr Wouter Basson be struck off the South African medical register, NGOs said on Wednesday.
“Today the general assembly of the WMA begins in Durban, bringing together representatives from professional medical associations from all over the world,” the People's Health Movement and Section27 said in a statement.
“The SA Medical Association (Sama) represents South Africa's doctors at the general assembly. Earlier this year, Sama issued a statement indicating that it expects nothing less than the harshest sanction from the HPCSA (Health Professions Council of SA) for Basson's unprofessional conduct.”
The NGOs said they had written to Sama president Prof Ames Dhai to ask the association to table Basson's participation in chemical and biological warfare at the congress.
“Prof Dhai has acknowledged our request and has committed to doing so,” it said.
“We believe... that it is appropriate that the congress recognise the seriousness of the charges on which Dr Basson was found guilty and issue a public statement calling for his removal from the medical register.”
The HPCSA in December last year found Basson guilty of unprofessional conduct. His sentencing hearing was expected to be heard from November 26 to 29.
The HPCSA inquiry was held to determine whether he acted unethically in the exercise of his duties as a chemical warfare expert. He 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 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 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.
The State appealed against this decision in the Supreme Court of Appeal, but the appeal was dismissed.
The State then went to the Constitutional Court, but the case was dismissed in September 2005.