‘Bas­son’s state­ment al­most a con­fes­sion’

Doc­tor ac­cused of us­ing emo­tional black­mail

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - NTANDO MAKHUBU

DR WOUTER Bas­son all but ad­mit­ted to break­ing all the codes of ethics which bound him to his med­i­cal pro­fes­sion, and so it was a nat­u­ral as­sump­tion that the pro­fes­sional tri­bunal try­ing him for act­ing un­pro­fes­sion­ally would find him guilty, a hu­man rights ac­tivist said yes­ter­day.

Ad­mit­ting that he had over­seen and par­tic­i­pated in the man­u­fac­ture of chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal weapons broke all rules of the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion, doc­tor and hu­man rights ac­tivist Mar­jorie Job­son said.

“When you are a doc­tor you do not chose to be one on some days, and ig­nore it to be another pro­fes­sional the next,” she said.

She spoke at the end of a two-day pre­sen­ta­tion of heads of ar­gu­ment by the le­gal teams in­volved in the Health Pro­fes­sions Coun­cil of South Africa (HPCSA) case yes­ter­day, where Bas­son’s le­gal de­fence ar­gued that he had par­tic­i­pated in the de­vel­op­ment of the harm­ful sub­stances in his ca­pac­ity as a sol­dier.

In ar­gu­ing that his client be ab­solved of all charges, Advo- cate Jaap Cil­liers SC said: “He had been act­ing in his ca­pac­ity as a sol­dier, with his med­i­cal train­ing in the back­ground.”

He said the then 30-year-old doc­tor had just joined the de­fence force, and could not defy in­struc­tions to de­velop the re­quired sub­stances when his boss in­structed him to do so.

In ask­ing the com­mit­tee over­see­ing the tri­bunal to find Bas­son guilty on all charges, pro forma com­plainant Ad­vo­cate Salie Jou­bert said: “He could not have dis­as­so­ci­ated him­self from his pro­fes­sion as a med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner.”

Jou­bert said Bas­son had been a med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner in the ser­vice of the South African Med­i­cal Ser­vices, and had re­mained a med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner through­out.

Job­son, of apartheid crimes na­tional mem­ber­ship or­gan­i­sa­tion Khu­lumani, said that when a med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner took his oaths all peo­ple be­came equal in his eyes, and they were all hu­man be­ings whose lives needed sav­ing and pre­serv­ing.

Bas­son faces four charges re­lated to his ac­tiv­i­ties as project man­ager of the aparthei­dera Project Coast and Delta G Sci­en­tific, in which he put to use his ex­per­tise as a chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal ex­pert. He has been ac­cused of launch­ing a chem­i­cal at­tack on South Africans, and of us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of ma­te­rial from Is­rael, China and Brazil to make the weapons.

When he took the stand at the hear­ing ear­lier this year, Bas­son ad­mit­ted to hav­ing pro­duced agents like tear­gas and in­ca­pac­i­tat­ing sub­stances, say­ing they had been re­quired for crowd con­trol, to be used in town­ships where peo­ple burnt and killed each other and de­stroyed state prop­erty.

Yes­ter­day his de­fence called those “mad times”, and said Bas­son’s de­ci­sions were based on the am­biance of the day. Cil­liers re­minded the com­mit­tee that Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu had threat­ened to leave the coun­try be­cause of the vi­o­lence.

When Bas­son showed the hear­ing video footage of peo­ple burn­ing and dy­ing, and men­tion­ing that mor­tars he had weaponised and sent to An­gola was meant to save the lives of South African troops work­ing along­side rebel leader Jonas Sav­imbi, he was ac­cused of us­ing emo­tional black­mail to evoke sym­pa­thy from the com­mit­tee.

When he said the cyanide sui­cide cap­sules he had helped man­u­fac­ture were to save sol­diers from painful deaths in cap­tiv­ity, he was again slated for try­ing to evoke emo­tions.

Af­ter both le­gal teams closed their heads of ar­gu­ment, the case was closed, to be back be­fore the com­mit­tee on De­cem­ber 18 for judg­ment.

ntando.makhubu@inl.co.za

IN DE­FENCE: Wouter Bas­son ‘was just fol­low­ing or­ders’.

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