July 6, 2022

South African apartheid doctor fights deregistration

South African cardiologist Wooter Basson has beaten various attempts to convict him of crimes committed under the former apartheid regime, particularly running its secret germ and chemical warfare program, Project Coast, from 1983 to 1991.

South African cardiologist Wooter Basson has beaten various attempts to convict him of crimes committed under the former apartheid regime, particularly running its secret germ and chemical warfare program, Project Coast, from 1983 to 1991. Now the man dubbed by the local media “Dr Death” is fighting accusations of unethical conduct in the Health Professions Council. If found guilty, he could be deregistered.

 

The sole witness for the prosecution is an American bioethicist, Dr Steven Miles, of the University of Minnesota. He has been grilled fiercely by Dr Basson’s defence lawyer, Jaap Cilliers. This week he contended that Basson was acting as a soldier while working on Project Coast and therefore he was not subject to medical ethics but military ethics. Miles, who has written extensively on the ethical duties of military doctors, responded that “Medical ethics are the same in times of peace as they are at war.”

Miles believes that Dr Basson violated medical ethics by being instrumental in the production of drugs and tear gas, using these chemicals in mortars, supplying substances to tranquillise kidnap victims in cross-border operations, and supplying suicide cyanide capsules. The primary task of the medical profession is to preserve health and save lives, not destroy them, he said. Stay tuned for further developments. ~ IOL News, Sept 30; Mail and Guardian, Sept 29

Michael Cook