The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have called on Mediclinic Southern Africa to bar apartheid-era chemical warfare expert, Dr Wouter Basson, from accessing their premises and practising with them with immediate effect, following public outrage after it emerged this week that Basson has at least two practices at Mediclinic facilities in the Western Cape.
The Red Berets have also called on Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize to “administer a full and complete investigation against Dr Basson and Mediclinic for being enablers of bringing the esteemed field of medicine into disrepute”.
Basson has been dubbed “Dr Death” for role his role as the mastermind behind the apartheid government’s secret chemical and biological warfare programme in the 1980s and 1990s‚ known as Project Coast.
He was accused of producing deadly drugs and other substances to be used against “enemies” of the apartheid government by providing security forces with cyanide to help them commit suicide, and providing drugs that would disorientate prisoners.
On Wednesday, Mediclinic’s corporate communications manager, Tertia Kruger, responded to the backlash over Basson’s association with the hospital company.
Kruger, in a statement, refuted reports that Basson was employed by the private hospital company. She said Basson worked as an independent specialist cardiologist with admission rights to treat his patients at two of its facilities in Panorama and Durbanville.
“He consults from his own rooms, where patients choose to consult him. In the interest of our patients, we must respect each patient’s right to choose the most appropriate medical professional to deliver the required treatment at the facility of the patient’s choice,” she said.
Kruger said Mediclinic viewed the public concerns raised in a very serious light and that the matter was receiving priority attention and consideration at top leadership level.
“Further communication in this regard will follow as appropriate,” she said.
But the EFF is not satisfied with the response from Mediclinic and believes that the company should disassociate itself from Basson on ethical and moral grounds. The party contended that Basson should have stood trial and his licence to practise as a medical doctor be withdrawn for his involvement in Project Coast.
“Although Dr Basson is not an employee of Mediclinic as per their assertion on social media, he utilises their premises, social capital and platform to be a medical practitioner even following his gruesome crimes against humanity, which are undoubtedly unacceptable,” said the EFF’s national spokesperson Vuyani Pambo in a statement on Wednesday.
“As an institution for health care, morals and ethics should primarily inform, especially in such an instance, their decision to withhold liberty against Dr Basson to practice on their premises. Failure by Mediclinic to disassociate themselves with this terrorist, a doctor of death, essentially means that they as an institution pay no mind to the safety of black patients and the primary objective to restore life.”’
The EFF said Basson, “like many other terrorists of the apartheid era who only sought to destroy the lives of black people and anti-apartheid activists”, were rewarded by the ANC government with the liberty of freedom, jobs, and no consequences for their brutal actions.
“It was the ANC government led by President Nelson Mandela in 1995 that hired Basson to work for Transnet. It was the government of the ANC under the leadership of President Mandela that hired Basson to serve as an army surgeon,” the statement read.
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The EFF also called on the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) to follow through with concluding and penalising Basson with the remaining charges against him and ensure that he is stripped of his licence to practice as a cardiologist.
Basson was found guilty in December 2013 of unethical misconduct by the disciplinary panel of the HPCSA for his role as the head of the apartheid government’s secret chemical and biological warfare programme. In 2018, he succeeded in his appeal application in the Supreme Court of Appeal challenging an earlier in 2016 ruling by the Pretoria High Court to have two HPCSA members recused from the committee deciding his sentence for unethical conduct.
Since then, Basson has been practising as a cardiologist in Cape Town. And in April 2019, the HPCSA said it would apply for leave to appeal the judgment.
“On a daily basis, the HPCSA is able to carry through such investigations and panelise doctors and health practitioners for the most docile of crimes and oversight, and yet Dr Basson, after decades of intentionally murdering black people, is still afforded an opportunity to be a health practitioner,” Pambo said.
“The doctor of death, after having not served any time in prison for his crimes, showing no remorse for his treacherous acts, and failing to even divulge to the TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] the full information of his terrorist acts that resulted in mass deaths of black people, must in the least not be allowed to carry the privilege and esteem of practicing in the healthcare sector. Dr Basson belongs in jail, not in a medical institution,” he added.