A psychiatrist, who used shock aversion therapy to “cure” gay conscripts into the apartheid SA Defence Force, is facing 21 charges in a Canadian court of rape and sexual assault against males.


Aubrey Levin, 71, became known as “Dr Shock” because of the severe shock methods he used in attempting to “cure” homosexuals. He appeared in court yesterday for his preliminary hearing on 21 charges of sexual assault.


Levin’s hearing is expected to run until the end of June.


He was arrested in Calgary, Canada, in March last year after a 36-year-old male patient alleged he had sexually abused him over a number of years.


Shortly before the birth of South Africa’s democracy, Levin fled to the Albertan city of Calgary where he practised as a psychiatrist and lectured at the College of Physicians and Surgeons.


He qualified as a registered psychiatrist in South Africa in the late 1960s and later commanded the major psychiatric wing of 1 Military Hospital at Voortrekkerhoogte in Pretoria. Later he became the apartheid government’s head of mental health.


Before leaving South Africa he refused to testify before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) about the allegations that he was guilty of gross human rights violations.


This related to his methods of using severe electric shocks as part of “aversion therapy” that was supposed to “cure” homosexuals in the military.


“Pacifists” in the army were dealt with by means of narco analysis, by administering drugs such as sodium penthanol – the so-called “truth” drug – which lowers people’s inhibitions.




Levin admitted that he used


the drug but “only sparingly and in cases where patients suffered severe post-traumatic stress”. Many serious allegations against him were to have been investigated by the TRC, but this never happened.


Now, more than a year after his arrest, Levin is not only facing the initial rape charge in Canada but a total of 21 sexual assault charges.


In December, CBC News in Canada reported that the Alberta Justice Department had sent out letters to lawyers whose clients had been ordered by the court to see Levin.


The letter said: “If you have any concerns about Dr Levin in his professional capacity, you may also wish to contact the Calgary Police Service.”


Nearly 60 letters were sent out, while the Alberta Justice Department said at the time that its “primary concern was to see that justice is done”.


Canadian lawyers were also quoted as saying that they had never seen so many letters, and that the response was “unprecedented”.


Levin was appointed by the courts as a forensic psychiatrist numerous times for a period of about 13 years.


Convicted criminals were ordered to see him before sentencing.


However he is now the one facing charges as many of the men he assessed have accused him of crimes.


The Canadian press has reported that, in the letters, some of the men alleged that Levin sexually assaulted them during court-ordered assessments or counselling sessions.




In another twist, a judge last week banned international media from attending Levin’s hearing.