Cape Town cardiologist Dr Wouter Basson may go ahead with a review application in the High Court in Pretoria which, if successful, could result in his disciplinary hearing and conviction of unethical conduct before the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) being set aside.
A professional conduct committee of the HPCSA in 2013 found Dr Basson guilty of unprofessional and unethical conduct as a medical doctor when he headed the apartheid government’s chemical and biological warfare programme in the 1980s.
The committee was hearing evidence in aggravation of sentence in 2015 when Basson applied for the recusal of the the chairperson, Prof Jannie Hugo, and committee member Prof Eddie Mhlanga, claiming there was a clear perception that they were biased against him from the start of the hearing.
One of his complaints was that Hugo failed to reveal that he was a member of or associated with organisations which signed petitions calling for Basson’s removal from the medical roll. When the committee members refused to recuse themselves and continued hearing evidence in aggravation in Basson’s absence, he launched a review application in the High Court in Pretoria.
Basson, nicknamed “Dr Death”, turned to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) after the high court in April 2016 rejected his review application, saying he had not exhausted his internal remedies and should have lodged an internal appeal.
The SCA this week set aside the high court’s ruling and referred Basson’s application back to the high court to decide on the review. Judge Jeremiah Shongwe said if it was found that Hugo and Mhlanga ought to have recused themselves, the proceedings before the committee would be nullified.
-Ilse de Lange