Health Management Pharmaceutical Drugs

Chair of Basson HPCSA inquiry may be forced to step down

The Pretoria High Court has granted an application by Apartheid-era chemical weapons expert Dr Wouter Basson that may allow him to sack the chair of his ongoing Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) inquiry.

Basson may call for HPSCA Professional Conduct Committee Chairman Jannie Hugo to recuse himself from the HPCSA inquiry that will determine whether Basson will be allowed to continue practicing medicine.

Basson may call for HPSCA Professional Conduct Committee Chairman Jannie Hugo to recuse himself from the HPCSA inquiry that will determine whether Basson will be allowed to continue practicing medicine.

The Pretoria High Court has upheld Basson’s right to file an application to prohibit HPSCA Professional Conduct Committee Chairman Jannie Hugo from presiding over Basson’s ongoing sentencing. This follows concerns by Basson’s legal team that Hugo’s South African Medical Association (SAMA) membership may be a conflict of interest.

According to Basson’s attorney Wynanda Coetzee, Basson now has 10 days in which to bring an application for Hugo’s removal to the High Court.

She added that the High Court had also instructed the HPCSA to cover the costs, including Basson’s attorney fees, involved in lodging the High Court application.

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.

The HPCSA found Basson guilty of unprofessional conduct owing to his involvement in the apartheid chemical weapons programme “Project Coast” in December 2014.

On Monday, Basson’s legal team walked out of sentencing proceedings less than hour after they had begun at the HPCSA’s Pretoria headquarters after alleging Hugo had a conflict of interest. Headed by Advocate Jaap Cilliers, Basson’s legal team also demanded that both Hugo and fellow committee member Eddie Mhlanga review the petitions and disclose whether they were members of any other signing organisations.

According to Coetzee, Hugo and Mhlangu subsequently provided this information as part of affidavits.

Basson’s HPCSA sentencing is expected to resume 12 March. The health professionals body could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.

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.

About the author

Laura Lopez Gonzalez

Laura Lopez Gonzalez was the Print Editor of Health-e News Service.