The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) is expected to apply for leave to appeal a judgment recusing two of its members from the committee looking into the professional conduct of Dr Wouter Basson.
“If Judge Potterill’s judgment is to be applied, it will impact extensively on the ability of practitioners who are members of various professional associations to make themselves available as members of committees of preliminary inquiry, alternatively professional conduct committees.
“In light of the serious implications of the judgment, the HPCSA has instructed its attorney Tebogo Malatji of Malatji Kanyane Incorporated to file an application for leave to appeal to ensure that the functioning of the HPCSA is not hampered by the unintended consequences of the judgment,” HPCSA spokesperson Daphney Chuma said in a statement on Tuesday.
This comes after Basson, the former head of the apartheid government’s chemical and biological warfare programme Project Coast applied to the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to have two HPCSA members recused after an HPCSA tribunal found him guilty of unethical conduct in December 2013.
The committee, headed by Professor Jannie Hugo, found Basson guilty of four counts of unprofessional and unethical conduct as a medical doctor when he headed the apartheid government’s chemical and biological warfare programme between 1981 and 1992.
It found that he had acted unethically by making cyanide capsules for South African soldiers to use to commit suicide if captured and that he violated the medical ethical principle of “first do no harm”, News 24 earlier reported.
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Basson claimed that council’s chairperson‚ Jannie Hugo‚ and another committee member‚ Eddie Mhlanga, were biased.
“The basis for the application for recusal is that Professor Hugo was a member of the South African Medical Association (SAMA) and the Rural Doctors Association of South Africa (Rudasa), both of whom had petitioned the Professional Conduct Committee to have Dr Wouter Basson’s name removed from the roll of registered practitioners arising from the guilty finding,” Chuma explained.
But the HPCSA is of the view that the judgment ought to be appealed on its merits.
“There is no evidence that Professor Hugo, as a member of SAMA and Rudasa, supported the petition and most importantly, Professor Mhlanga is a not member of either associations and therefore both should not have been recused,” Chuma said.
The statutory body, established under the Health Professions Act 56 of 1974, further urged registered professionals to continue to avail themselves to be members of preliminary committees of inquiries as well as professional conduct committees pending the outcome of the appeal.