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October 07 2000 at 07:40PM
Dunedin – Colin Bouwer, a former Cape Town psychiatrist accused of gradually poisoning his wife, was denied bail in a New Zealand court this week because it was feared that he might flee the country.
It is alleged that 50-year-old Bouwer killed his wife, Annette, 47, between September 30 1999 and January 5 this year by giving her drugs that induced hypoglycaemia, a debilitating disease difficult to diagnose or treat.
According to police, the doctor had issued prescriptions for the drugs and stockpiled them in his house.
Bouwer has since resigned from his post as head of psychological medicine at Otago University, as well as from a psychiatric practice at Healthcare Otago.
‘Bouwer said fidelity was an outdated notion’
This week, New Zealand’s medical council asked Bouwer, who will appear in court again in two weeks, to voluntarily surrender his medical practicing certificate.
As startling claims of the doctor’s role in South Africa’s liberation struggle were made in court this week, allegations of sexual misconduct and deceit surfaced in Cape Town.
Bouwer’s defence counsel told the court that South African police had arrested, tortured and detained him without trial for six months for being a “political opponent of apartheid” and a member of a banned organisation. The experience, they said, in his early 20s had resulted in Bouwer’s fear of police and detention.
The South African Police Service could not confirm the allegation at the time of going to press.
It was also claimed that the bright University of Pretoria graduate – he also holds two masters degrees, one from Potchefstroom University and the other from Stellenbosch University – had been addicted to the painkiller pethidine, and was declared an “impaired” doctor by the then South African Medical and Dental Council between 1981 and 1992.
‘It seems there was a side to Colin we never knew’
During this time Bouwer was allowed to practice under prescribed conditions. Former colleagues said claims about Bouwer’s pethedine habit were first made after a 1979 complaint by the then Transvaal department of hospital services.
Meanwhile, two former patients alleged this week that Bouwer, whom they described as a “messiah” to those with anxiety disorders and depression, had engaged in sexual activities with them while in his care.
They claimed Bouwer had told them that fidelity was an “outdated notion”. According to the patients, he said his wife was dying of cancer and he “hadn’t had sex in a long time”. He had encouraged them to divorce their husbands, they said.
One patient claimed that during the six months of her treatment at Stikland Hospital in 1996, the doctor twice went to her Tygerberg house and had sex with her.
The 44-year-old mother later confessed to her husband, and after hearing that another patient had allegedly fallen prey to his sexual advances, lodged a complaint with the Health Professions Council in October 1996.
However, after the couple were told that either they supplied more intimate details of the two encounters or see the matter closed. They dropped the case.
Louise Emerton, a council spokesperson, said no complaints against Bouwer had ever reached public hearing level and, therefore, all details remained confidential.
In another allegation, a 46-year-old Bergvliet mother of three, who consulted Bouwer over several months, told how he had pushed her onto his desk at Stikland Hospital and roughly shoved his hands down her shirt before forcefully kissing her.
The patient said she complained directly to his superiors, but failed to lodge a formal complaint because she feared the publicity.
“When Colin found out, he went ballistic. I thought he was going to throttle me. He eventually calmed down, saying he had ‘connections’ (at the Health Professions Council), so he wasn’t going to worry if he got reported,” she claimed.
She claimed Bouwer told her he was going overseas without his wife because she was too sick, and that he wanted to divorce her.
Bouwer, she claimed, told her he suffered from panic disorder and severe depression and took Prozac and the date-rape drug Rohypnol.
She said he also told her he had tuberculosis.
Annette’s Cape Town friends said she was “an unbelievably healthy woman”, who had shown no signs of illness before she emigrated with her husband and their two teenage children to New Zealand a few years ago.
Friends are shocked at the allegations. Said one: “It seems there was a side to Colin we never knew.
“As far as we were concerned, he and Annette adored each other. Now I’m hearing he had been on a very flirty footing with the nurses at Stikland … ” one said.
Bouwer’s son, Gregory, had been headboy of his primary school and both he and daughter Anthea were considered “very bright”.
Annette, a qualified physiotherapist, was considered highly intelligent and had apparently met Bouwer at a Mensa meeting in Pretoria. – Staff Writer