NATIONAL NEWS - Mediclinic Southern Africa on Wednesday moved to clarify its association with controversial apartheid-era chemical warfare expert, Dr Wouter Basson, saying he was not employed as a cardiologist at Mediclinic.
This followed public criticism after it emerged that Basson has at least two practices at Mediclinic facilities in Panorama and Durbanville in the Western Cape, as stated in the private hospital company’s website.
"By law, practising doctors are independent practitioners and are not employed by any hospital group. Dr Basson is not employed by Mediclinic Southern Africa and does not have his consulting rooms at a Mediclinic facility,” said Tertia Kruger, Mediclinic’s corporate communication manager in a statement.
Kruger said Basson works as an independent specialist cardiologist with admission rights to treat his patients at two Mediclinic facilities.
“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.
“Dr Basson operates as an independent specialist cardiologist, with admission rights to treat his patients in two Mediclinic facilities as well as at other hospitals that are not in the Mediclinic stable,” she said.
Basson, dubbed “Dr Death”, was found guilty in December 2013 of unethical misconduct by the disciplinary panel of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for his role as the head of 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.
In 2018, Basson succeeded in his appeal application in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) challenging an earlier ruling by the Pretoria High Court in 2016 to have two HPCSA members recused from the committee deciding his sentence for unethical conduct.
Since then, Basson has been practicing as a cardiologist in Cape Town. And in April 2019, the HPCSA said it would apply for leave to appeal the judgment.
Meanwhile, Kruger said Mediclinic viewed the public concerns raised in a very serious light, saying the matter was receiving priority attention.
“We acknowledge and understand the sensitivities and ethical perspectives on the matter. The situation is receiving priority attention and consideration at Mediclinic top leadership level. Further communication in this regard will follow as appropriate.”