Support group calls for Bas­son to be sanc­tioned

Car­di­ol­o­gist failed to re­flect, take re­spon­si­bil­ity, HPCSA is told

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - SAPA

ARDIOLOGIST Dr Wouter Bas­son ne­glected core med­i­cal ethics and should be struck off the list of med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers, a Health Pro­fes­sions Coun­cil of South Africa (HPCSA) sen­tenc­ing hear­ing was told yes­ter­day.

“The prob­lem is, Dr Bas­son al­ways had a choice and he did not ex­er­cise his choice in support of med­i­cal ethics,” apartheid vic­tims support group Khu­lumani di­rec­tor Dr Mar­jorie Job­son said in Pre­to­ria.

“In the­ory, he can say his ac­tiv­i­ties did not have lethal con­se­quences. As a doc­tor work­ing in ca­su­alty de­part­ments in town­ship hos­pi­tals (dur­ing apartheid), I saw the lethal con­se­quences of the tear­gas and other agents.”

Job­son said the level of Bas­son’s trans­gres­sions re­quired a heavy sanc­tion.

“It is only out of the re­al­ity of sanc­tion­ing this be­hav­iour that there is any re­flec­tion on what their per­pe­tra­tors caused on cit­i­zens of South Africa. Mr Eu­gene de Kock is a prime ex­am­ple.

“We have come to re­alise that sanc­tion cre­ates the op­por­tu­nity for re­flec­tion and for ac­cept­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity. With­out it, we never get to a point where peo­ple con­sider that per­haps their ac­tiv­i­ties were not in the best in­ter­est of the coun­try and the majority of the peo­ple,” she said.

De Kock was head of a covert po­lice unit that tor­tured and killed dozens of anti-apartheid mil­i­tants.

Bas­son’s lawyer, ad­vo­cate Jaap Cil­liers SC, asked if Job­son was ap­peal­ing to the hear­ing to pass a harsh sen­tence so that the car­di­ol­o­gist would show re­morse.

Job­son replied that a puni­tive sen­tence would be fit­ting.

“Ev­ery­where in the world where I go, the first ques­tion which arises is: ‘How is it pos­si­ble that Dr Bas­son has never been sanc­tioned up to now?’ Peo­ple can­not com­pre­hend that,” she said. “His prac­tice needs a very se­vere sanc­tion. The prob­lem is Dr Bas­son has not con­ceded, he has not shown that he has re­flected on the pos­si­bil­ity that he vi­o­lated med­i­cal ethics. He has not taken re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

She in­sisted Bas­son’s claims

Cthat his ac­tiv­i­ties were non-lethal, were du­bi­ous.

“Khu­lumani has a mem­ber­ship of 6 800 fam­i­lies of the dis­ap­peared peo­ple who were ab­ducted in op­er­a­tions by the se­cu­rity po­lice us­ing agents. There is no ac­count­abil­ity yet about those ac­tiv­i­ties,” said Job­son.

Cil­liers said there had been no ev­i­dence in­di­cat­ing his client’s ac­tiv­i­ties were lethal.

“The fact is, there is no sug­ges­tion in ev­i­dence that Dr Bas­son ever caused harm to any­body. Do you ac­cept that there is no link be­tween any harm­ful con­se­quences and the con­duct of Dr Bas­son?” asked Cil­liers.

Job­son re­sponded: “I ac­cept that it was not pos­si­ble to prove that beyond rea­son­able doubt. I have per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of the harms that peo­ple suf­fer be­cause of the use of tear­gas and other agents.”

Bas­son’s HPCSA sen­tenc­ing hear­ing be­gan on Wed­nes­day.

In De­cem­ber last year, the HPCSA found Bas­son guilty of un­pro­fes­sional con­duct.

The in­quiry was held to de­ter­mine whether Bas­son acted un­eth­i­cally in the ex­er­cise of his du­ties as a chem­i­cal war­fare ex­pert dur­ing the apartheid era.

He was ac­cused of act­ing un­eth­i­cally by be­ing in­volved in Man­drax, co­caine and tear­gas, of weapon­is­ing tear­gas and sup­ply­ing it to An­gola’s then 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 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 State ap­pealed against the decision, but the ap­peal was dis­missed.

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

The HPCSA re­viewed the judg­ment to es­tab­lish if there were grounds to con­tinue with an in­quiry. The hear­ing re­sumes in Jan­uary.

I saw the lethal con­se­quences of tear gas and oth­ers

PIC­TURE: MATTHEWS BALOYI

AG­GRIEVED: Pub­lic Mem­bers Unit Team picket in front of Auck­land Park Prepara­tory School yes­ter­day.

UN­ETH­I­CAL: Dr Wouter Bas­son had a choice, says Khu­lumani.

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