Call for harsh sentence on Basson


To protect the ethics of the medical profession, the harshest possible sentence should be imposed on former chemical warfare expert Dr Wouter Basson, a senior academic said yesterday.

“It is incumbent that a firm stance is taken as it will reflect adversely on the profession if it is not done,” University of Cape Town clinical pharmacology professor Marc Blockman told the Health Professions Council of SA yesterday.

Blockman, chairman of the university’s human research ethics committee, said the council required the teaching of bioethics, human rights and law in the interest of patients and the public.

“If a light sentence is imposed it would undermine this imperative.”

The HPCSA found Basson guilty last month of unprofessional conduct for his role as head of the apartheid regime’s chemical and biological warfare programme in the 1980s.

The programme carried out the mass manufacture of mandrax, cocaine and teargas, as well as teargasfilled mortars sent to Unita rebel leader Jonas Savimbi in Angola.

Basson was also found guilty of providing disorienting substances for cross-border kidnapping and making cyanide capsules available for distribution.

Testimony was delayed earlier yesterday when Basson filed for an urgent court order to halt the sentencing proceedings.

His advocate, Jaap Cilliers SC, questioned the impartiality of Jannie Hugo, the chairman of the HPCSA’s professional conduct committee.

Cilliers walked out when Hugo ruled against the postponement and went to the high court to apply for an interdict “to prohibit you to proceed with these proceedings”.

Pretoria High Court judge Selby Baqwa granted the interim order, pending the finalisation of the application, which will be heard tomorrow.

– Sipho Masombuka 

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