What started as a national source of outrage has now made headlines globally. Wouter Basson, the man dubbed ‘Dr. Death’ by the media for his role in the apartheid regime, has been in the spotlight once more this week, after it was revealed that the cardiologist is currently working as a private practitioner in the Western Cape.

Why Wouter Basson’s allowed to continue working as a doctor

What is more, everything about this situation seems to be legal and above board. For the past 15 years, he has gone about his work quietly, and even enjoys a degree of support in some quarters. Because ‘Dr. Death’ has never been criminally charged, Basson remains free to seek work in the medical industry – despite his dark history:

  • He WAS the head of apartheid’s chemical weapons and biological research department.
  • Their research DID involve looking at ‘population control methods’ (Project Coast), which included the manufacturing of drugs that would severely affect the health of black citizens. It’s unclear if he looked at ‘black infertility’ projects, though.
  • There are a total of 67 criminal charges that were brought against him. He was ACQUITTED of them all.
  • A series of legal technicalities aided his cause greatly. For example; Wouter Basson is ACCUSED of organising the killing of 200 SWAPO officers in Namibia. However, he was named in their 1989 amnesty, and a South African court ruled they could not convict him of any supposed crime that took place in a different country.
  • It’s important to note that Nelson Mandela APPOINTED Dr. Basson as an Army Surgeon in 1995, before his trial started in 1999.

Dr. Death: No criminal charges, no ‘unethical conduct’

Wouter Basson was initially found guilty of unethical conduct by an HPCSA committee in 2013. The four charges were drawn up by the medical authority related to his alleged crimes while serving as a key apartheid figure. He was due to receive sentencing for this, but his remarkable run of luck came into play once more.

In 2014, the sentencing was postponed due to ‘the unavailability of counsel’. Somewhat inexplicably, the case was brushed to one side – and was only revisited in 2019. The charges against the doctor were then totally thrown out due to ‘significant bias’ shown by those on the HPCSA committee, allowing Basson to continue his work as a private practitioner.

MediClinic and Wouter Basson – what’s the deal?

MediClinic’s reasons for allowing him to work in conjunction with – but not for – their organisation has proved to be quite unpopular. However, they are sticking to their guns on this one. Despite the evidence against him, Basson has never been charged with a crime, nor has he ever been found guilty of professional misconduct. Therefore, their hands are tied

“By law, doctors are independent practitioners and cannot be employed by Mediclinic Southern Africa. We cannot prohibit HPCSA registered doctors, including Wouter Basson, from practicing unless they are legally prevented from doing so.”

MediClinic statement

Earlier on Thursday, we were asked to explain the situation to BBC’s Newsday – you can hear more about this story by following the link, and skipping forward to 32:30

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Presh JM Reporter

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