Project Coast unethical, bioweapons head, guilty

Apartheid operative

SOUTH AFRICA’S media have been reporting on the surprise verdict by the country’s health professions council.

The HPCSA ruled last week after a six-year hearing into the affairs of Dr Wouter Basson, the head of the apartheid regime’s Project Coast.

The secret biological weapons programme which flooded townships with methamphetamine, mandrax and MDMA has come under increasing scrutiny as the head of the programme, Dr Wouter Basson was found guilty of unethical conduct.

This is after an earlier criminal case brought by the state was thrown out due to “lack of evidence” in 2002.

Basson has admitted to producing a number of biological and chemical weapons used in the assassination of anti-apartheid activists and the murder of members of the liberation movement, however the full extant of the secret dirty tricks programme code-named Project Coast has only now become clear.

According to media reports, the project was ‘involved in the large-scale production of Mandrax, cocaine and teargas, of weaponising teargas, and of supplying it to Angola’s Unita leader Jonas Savimbi.’

The project’s research, interrogation and brainwashing methods may have inadvertently  been revealed during the course of cross-examination.

Basson is said to have acted unethically by ‘providing disorientating substances for cross-border kidnappings, and by making cyanide capsules available for distribution to operatives for use in committing suicide.’

“In the light of all the circumstances, the breaches amount to unprofessional conduct… the respondent is guilty of unprofessional conduct,” HPCSA professional conduct committee chairman Prof Jannie Hugo said in Pretoria.

According to the Sowetan, ‘Basson had presented nine arguments at an inquiry into his conduct in which he claimed he acted as a soldier and not a doctor, and that he was not aware of the ethics.’

Hugo said Basson contravened international protocols and conventions. These were the Geneva Declaration of 1948 and the UN convention on the prohibition of and stockpiling of dangerous weapons.

“The respondent confused ethics of a doctor with that of a soldier while discharging his duties. A doctor cannot rely on military orders to escape the consequences of his duties.”

Hugo said if a doctor decided to use his medical knowledge and skills and consequently contravene medical ethics, he should deregister as a medical practitioner.

The six-year-long inquiry related to Basson’s involvement in South Africa’s own MK Ultra, The dirty tricks programme which mirrored other such programmes under the Nixon administration. Project Coast was operational between the 1980s and early 1990s.


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