Khulumani Expresses Dismay at the Decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal in the Wouter Basson Professional Misconduct Case

Dr. Wouter Basson Dr. Wouter Basson

Today the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the North Gauteng High Court that Dr Basson would have to exhasut all internal processes of the Health Professions Council in respect of his arguments that the guilty decision of the HPCSA Review Panel should be reviewed on grounds that the two medical specialists who sat on the Panel, were biased.

The North Gauteng High Court had initially ruled that Dr Basson needed to bring these arguments back to the HPCSA, despite the fact that the HPCSA had considered and passed a judgment about the issue of whether there was any bias on the part of the two medical specialists. The decision rejected any claim of bias on their part. Not satisfied with this outcome, and facing the sanction of being struck off the register of medical practitioners, Dr Basson once again reverted to the North Gauteng High Court, which dismissed his appeal.

Dr Basson then took this matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal which has found in his favour - that the matter of bias must now be considered by the High Court, beyond the ruling of the Professional Misconduct Committee of the HPCSA. More than thirty years after these events, the struggle to hold Dr Basson accountable for his gross violation of Medical Codes of Ethics continues.

The guilty verdict had been significant for the families of the victims of Project Coast, the Chemical and Biological Weapons programme which he managed for the apartheid government.

In December 2017, there was a powerful play reading of COAST: Scenes from the Trial of Dr Wouter Bassonand supported by the Goethe Institute. The play reading exposed the testimony in Dr Basson's criminal trial of the use of agents provided by Basson in disposing of captured SWAPO soldiers, once the prisoner-of-war camp in Namibia had reached its capacity. The evidence of the utter brutality of the actions in experimenting to find the most effective chemical way of murdering captured SWAPO soldiers in mid-air in a small aircraft headed out over the Atlantic Ocean, before dumping their naked bodies in the ocean, was chilling in the details of its horror.

Dr Basson's criminal trial for fraud, murder and conspiracy concluded in 2002, with a verdict handed down by Justice W Hertzenberg of not guilty. The play takes scenes from the actual transcripts of the trial, to attempt to air some narrated events to which both witnesses and Dr Basson testified. Its purpose is to provide a way for South Africans to understand what the apartheid Defence Force and Government were willing to do in the name of South African citizens.

Dr Basson was never held accountable for his crimes committed across South Africa's borders due to an agreement forged in the transition in Namibia that disallowed these crimes from being prosecuted in South Africa. Dr Basson continues to try to evade all responsibility for his role in the crimes that he made possible.

Once again, those whose loved ones died as a result of Dr Basson's nefarious activities, wait for yet another legal process to unfold. There has been no evidence of remorse from Basson at any stage of the many prolonged court and HPCSA hearings. The people will not forget. Many unaswered questions remain. The struggle for justice and accountability will continue to occupy Khulumani Support Group and all individuals affected by apartheid crimes.


Wouter Basson - the apartheid-era chemical warfare expert dubbed Dr. Death - has won a legal challenge in the matter of his Health Professions Council (HPCSA) disciplinary hearing.
He wants two members of the review committee that is deciding his sanction dismissed.

In 2007, while practising as a cardiologist, Basson was charged with unprofessional conduct.

The HPCSA argued that his participation in the army's apartheid-era chemical and biological warfare programme violated the rules on ethics for physicians.

In December 2013, he was found guilty.

Basson appealed to the high court, which instructed him to exhaust the internal processes of the HPCSA.

That decision has now been overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

The North Gauteng High Court will now have to make a ruling on the review application.

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