[Updated] Basson walks out of HPCSA sentencing, threatens High Court action
Apartheid-era chemical warfare expert Dr Wouter Basson and his legal team walked out of a Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) sentencing yesterday. His lawyers have also approached the High Court after alleging that the chair of Basson’s HPCSA inquiry failed to declare conflicts of interest.
Basson and his legal team led by Jaap Cilliers left the HPCSA sentencing less than an hour after proceedings began at HPCSA’s Pretoria headquarters. This followed allegations by Cilliers that his team only recently discovered that HPSCA Professional Conduct Committee Chairman Jannie Hugo was a member of the South African Medical Association (SAMA).
SAMA was one of more than 30 civil society organisations and 200 health care workers that signed petitions calling for Basson to lose his medical license. Section27 Executive Director Mark Heywood presented these petitions during Basson’s November 2014 HPCSA hearing.
Prior to leaving the HPCSA sentencing, Cilliers asked Hugo if he was a member of any other organisations that had signed onto the petitions. When HPCSA legal adviser retired judge Frikkie Eloff argued Cilliers should have raised the issue sooner and that it was no grounds to delay proceedings, Cilliers fired back.
Cilliers demanded that the committee adjourn Basson’s sentencing until he could approach the High Court for an order compelling Hugo to provide him with the requested information.
According to statements yesterday, Cilliers said may also seek an interdict to temporarily halt proceedings based on this information.
When the committee refused his request, Cilliers led the majority of his team and Basson out of the building. As he left the HPCSA’s Pretoria headquarters, Basson carried a neon green stress ball, which he had been increasingly squeezing in his left hand as events unfolded.
The HPCSA’s advocate Sallie Joubert called Cilliers’ moves “delay tactics”.
Joubert closed his case yesterday as Basson’s legal team confirmed they continued to pursue a High Court application. The HPCSA committee adjourned the matter until today to allow Basson to take the stand in his own defence.
In December 2014, the HPCSA found Basson guilty of unprofessional conduct owing to his involvement in the apartheid government’s “Project Coast.” During his time at Project Coast, Basson supplied weaponised tear gas to South Africa Defence Force and provided drugs used in cross-border kidnappings, and mass-produced drugs such as mandrax and ecstasy. – Health-e News.
[Updated 12:21 pm 20 January 2015: The HPCSA has confirmed that Basson’s legal team lodged a High Court application to postpone proceedings. The team is also seeking an order compelling Hugo and committee member Eddie Mhlanga to provide information relating to their membership to any of the organisations who signed petition calling for Basson to be stripped of his medical license.
The health worker body has also confirmed that Basson’s team will, in the next 48 hours, lodge a High Court application ordering Hugo and Mhlanga to excuse themselves from the proceeding]