An application by lawyers for apartheid-era chemical warfare expert Dr Wouter Basson to get more information about a hearing into his conduct will be heard in the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday. Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) spokeswoman Charmaine Motloung said the council received a court interdict to suspend the hearings on Monday afternoon. The HPCSA’s professional conduct committee met behind closed doors on Tuesday and discussed the high court application.
“We have to submit a response tomorrow at 10am in the High Court in Pretoria and then the application would be heard,” she said.
“The committee decided to suspend the hearings until Thursday morning, where we will announce what the judge has ruled. The way forward will be based on the ruling.”
On Monday, Jaap Cilliers, for Basson, and his client walked out of the proceedings to lodge an urgent high court application.
Cilliers said the defence had information that chairman of the hearing, Prof Jannie Hugo, signed a petition calling for Basson to be struck from the medical practitioners’ roll.
The defence would approach the high court with evidence of its allegations, and ask the court to rule on the hearing’s status.
“We are going to approach the high court this morning to force you to provide this hearing with the necessary information,” Cilliers told Hugo on Monday.
“We have evidence that you supported the initiative to have Basson removed from the roll.”
The HPCSA 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.
In his defence, Basson presented nine arguments in which he claimed he acted as a soldier and not a doctor.
Basson is 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 is 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