23 Jan 2015 05:30am
JUDGMENT EXPECTED IN BASSON CASE The High Court in Pretoria is expected on Friday to deliver judgment in an application by cardiologist Dr Wouter Basson to remove two members of an HPCSA committee sentencing him for unprofessional conduct. On Monday, Basson obtained an interdict preventing the HPCSA's professional conduct committee from continuing to sentence him for unethical conduct. He argued that two of its members were biased. Jaap Cilliers, for Basson, alleges chairman Prof Frikkie Hugo and committee member Prof Roland Edgar Mhlanga supported a petition by the SA Medical Association to remove Basson from the medical practitioners' roll. Basson wants Hugo and Mhlanga to recuse themselves from the committee. Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) lawyer Terry Motau said the court should set the interim interdict aside. Basson should have lodged an application with the committee and raised the matter with it, instead of seeking an interdict and delaying his own proceedings. In December 2013, the HPCSA found Basson guilty of unprofessional conduct following an eight-year long inquiry. The inquiry was held to determine whether Basson acted unethically during his work on the apartheid government's chemical and biological weapons project, Project Coast, during the 1980s and early 1990s. Basson, in his defence, claimed he had acted as a soldier and not a doctor. Basson 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 accused of acting unethically by providing disorientating substances for cross-border kidnappings and 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 hold an inquiry. The State appealed against the decision of the high court in the Supreme Court of Appeal, but the appeal was dismissed. The State then went to the Constitutional Court, but that case was dismissed in September 2005. Sapa /kd/lp