Dastardly in its concept and execution, Project Coast was a reflection of the inherent evil of apartheid. As Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I had the privilege of participating in an extraordinary and unique experience. I heard people tell of their part in some of the most terrible crimes against their brothers and sisters. I heard them plead for forgiveness from those they had wronged and I saw the spirit of humanity triumph in the forgiven and the forgiving.
Forgiveness depends on repentance, which has to be based on an acknowledgement of what was done wrong, and therefore on disclosure of the truth, you cannot forgive what you do not know.
It was therefore critical that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and then later the High Court, was able to expose the truth of Project Coast to the people of South Africa and the rest of the world.
This book by Chandré Gould and Peter Folb makes a vital contribution to our understanding of how the apartheid regime planned the deliberate use of chemical and biological agents on people, how those involved put together a determined programme to acquire knowledge and materials to develop the means to poison people within and outside South Africa's borders and how corruption inside that programme eventually led to their downfall. It is only when we have this understanding that we can learn and move on from the past. It is only then that we can prevent this happening again somewhere else.
I thank Chandré Goul d, Peter Folb, the Centre for Conflict Research in Cape Town and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva for publishing this account of Project Coast. A huge amount of work has gone into producing this account of the inhumanity at the heart of apartheid. What we learn from this research is what now allows South Africa to work tirelessly in the international arena to prevent the development and use of chemical and biological weapons. It is only by having dealt with the truth of our past, however painful and difficult that
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Publication information: Book title: Project Coast: Apartheid's Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme. Contributors: Chandré Gould - Author, Peter Folb - Author, Robert Berold - Editor. Publisher: United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. Place of publication: Geneva. Publication year: 2002. Page number: v.
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