'Basson's conduct unethical'

Professor Jannie Hugo says Basson's conduct offended established ethical rules.

The HPCSA has found that the conduct of apartheid-era chemical warfare expert Wouter Basson during the 1980s offended established ethical rules and codes of conduct. Picture:EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) has found that the conduct of apartheid-era chemical warfare expert Wouter Basson during the 1980s was unethical, but has yet to make a ruling on whether it constitutes professional misconduct.

Basson was dubbed 'Doctor Death' for leading the chemical weapons programme during apartheid.

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is trying him for unprofessional conduct for arming mortars with teargas and providing cyanide capsules to the defence force during this period.

Professor Jannie Hugo, chairperson of the HPCSA's professional conduct committee, said Basson's conduct offended established ethical rules and codes of conduct.

He relied on the testimony of expert witness Professor Steven Miles to reach this conclusion.

Hugo said suggestions that Miles was biased and unfair are unsound and the professor's testimony was supported by pure logic.

Hugo found it wasn't in dispute that Basson had weoponised mortars, coordinated the production and stockpiling of drugs such as mandrax and ecstasy as well as provided incapacitating agents for kidnapping operations.

He is still delivering his ruling on whether this makes Basson guilty of unprofessional conduct.

Basson's legal team has argued his conduct must be viewed in the context of the prevailing climate at the time.

Advocate Jaap Cilliers says while Basson had a medical qualification, he was conducting himself as a soldier not as a doctor.

But Advocate Solly Joubert dismissed Basson's claim that the time lapse between his conduct and being charged prejudiced him, arguing that war criminals were often prosecuted decades after their crimes.