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Basson case postponed over alleged HPCSA conflict of interest

Wouter Basson’s lawyers have called for the recusal of an HPCSA committee over suspected involvement in a petition to strike him off the medical roll.

The sentencing hearing of aparthied-era chemical warfare expert and medical doctor Wouter Basson has been postponed until Thursday January 22 2015, following a high court order.

The order bars the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) from proceeding with the hearings until the application made by Basson’s legal team on Wednesday morning was finalised. 

Basson’s lawyers lodged an application at the high court in Pretoria for the recusal of the HPCSA’s professional conduct committee chairperson Jannie Hugo, and committee member Eddie Mhlanga.

The application was lodged on Monday after it came to light that Hugo, as the chairperson of the committee which will hand down Basson’s sentence, is affiliated to the South African Medical Association (Sama). 

Sama is also one of the organisations that signed a petition that was brought before the committee calling for the removal of Basson from the roll of medical practitioners. 

Another order has been lodged by Basson’s lawyers, seeking to “compel Hugo and Mhlanga to provide information relating to their membership to any of the organisations who signed the petition”.

Basson was found guilty of unprofessional conduct for his actions in the late 1980s and early 1990s when he was the head of the apartheid government’s chemical and biological warfare programme. 

These activities included the mass production of mandrax and ecstasy, as well as providing disorientating substances for cross-border kidnappings. 

Basson’s legal teams have in the past prevailed with strategies that have worked to cause this hearing to drag on for 15 years after a complaint was filed against them in 2001.

Ina Skosana was a health reporter at Bhekisisa.