2014/01/30 DURBAN. MEC for health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo at the press briefing. PICTURE: SIYANDA MAYEZA

Durban -

AfriForum has accused the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) of being selective in how it disciplined doctors for their involvement in apartheid-era operations.

This was after the council dismissed its complaint against KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo and former surgeon-general Vejaynand Ramlakan for their involvement in the ANC’s “Operation Butterfly”, a series of attacks on civilian targets in 1985.

Six other doctors also put their names to the complaint against the MEC and Ramlakan.

Both men had made full disclosure about their involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle as MK operatives to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and, according to the law, could not be prosecuted based on the evidence they gave.

On Thursday, the council’s chief operations officer, advocate Tshepo Boikanyo, said the council had “scrutinised” the complaint to establish whether the council had jurisdiction to take the matter further.

However, the contents of the complaint relied on “incriminating evidence” from the TRC proceedings, which was problematic.

Dismissing the complaint, Boikanyo said: “In order to prove, on a balance of probabilities, that Dhlomo and Ramlakan are guilty of unprofessional conduct, the council will have to rely on the commission’s transcripts.”

This was against the law and the spirit of the TRC.

Afterwards Dhlomo came out guns blazing, saying that AfriForum’s complaint “smacked of racism”.

“It is unfortunate that AfriForum, in its blinded pursuit of publicity, failed to research my role as an MK soldier and what this meant.

“Being a soldier of the ANC’s military wing did not rely on medical expertise but rather an over-riding sense of justice to fight against atrocities committed by a brutal and racist system against the majority of citizens based on racial divide,” he said.

“The practice of using one’s medical skills to maim and kill was carried out by Nazi doctors in concentration camps where they inflicted unspeakable atrocities on their victims by using their medical knowledge.

“This is not how we operated within the ANC.”

AfriForum’s complaint was based on a recent guilty verdict by the council against Dr Wouter Basson, nicknamed “Doctor Death” for his actions during apartheid.

Kriel said AfriForum would appeal against the outcome of the complaint and had already consulted their legal team.

“This is not a criminal procedure, it’s an ethical procedure. The HPCSA is being political about this,” he said.

Efforts to get comment from Ramlakan were unsuccessful.


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The Mercury