Did This Man 'Kill Blacks Big Time'? (Special Report: South Africa)

By Osei, Boateng | New African, November 2001 | Go to article overview

Did This Man 'Kill Blacks Big Time'? (Special Report: South Africa)


Osei, Boateng, New African


The horrifying tale of Dr Wouter Basson's campaign trail of death has been unfolding in the Pretoria High Court since 4 October 1999 when his trial began. He faces 46 charges ranging from murder to fraud and drug dealing arising from his role as head of the chemical and biological warfare programme of the apartheid South African government. One of his former colleagues has said Basson "killed the blacks big time", but the army doctor has denied everything in court without calling as much as a single witness in his defence. In contrast, the prosecution called nearly 200 witnesses over two years. Basson finished his sole-witness testimony on 26 September, spending two months in the dock. We have an 18-page "special report" here on the trial. Please have a seat as this could knock you off your feet. It's truly mind boggling.

His real name is Dr Wouter Basson, but South Africans call him "Dr Death". He is 50, and a decorated army brigadier. In civilian life, he is an eminent cardiologist. To some supporters of the old apartheid order, he is even a hero. As the head of the apartheid regime's clandestine chemical and biological warfare programme codenamed "Project Coast", he is alleged to have "killed the blacks big time".

Dr Daan Goosen, the first managing director of Roodeplaat Research Laboratories, the South African Defence Force (SADF's) front company in the north of Pretoria where Project Coast was based, is on record to have said: "There are many people who think Basson was a war hero -- because he killed the blacks big time".

After Basson appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1998, the cuddly archbishop described Project Coast as "the most diabolical aspect of apartheid".

Over a period of 10 years (from 1983), Basson is alleged to have applied his medical/military training and skill to eliminate opponents of the apartheid regime in a most diabolical fashion.

Some of the revelations in court appear to confirm fears by certain Aids-watchers who have, in the past, pressed for a second look by governments in Southern Africa (or the former "Frontline States") into the current high incidence of HIV and Aids infection in the region as reported by UNAIDS and WHO.

The Aids-watchers have urged the Southern African governments to "look beyond sex" as "there could be something more to the extremely high rates of HIV infection and death in the region".

They have cited such clandestine chemical and biological warfare (CBW) programmes as the one headed by Dr Basson and the other operated by the Rhodesian regime during the liberation war in Zimbabwe. "Did the two white-supremacist regimes use the region as one big laboratory to teat the CBW weapons they developed, or were developing?" the Aids-watchers have asked.

There is enough circumstantial evidence showing this could have been done, but of course nobody would own up to it. The lack of hard evidence has left many vital and searching questions as the white South African writer, Ben Geer, poses in his 1997 book, Something More Sinister, (see Ben Geer's Epilogue on p34), begging for answers.

Dr Mike Odendaal, a microbiologist on Project Coast, who "did ghastly things at Roodeplaat, including putting anthrax spores in cigarettes, chocolates and lipstick", was reported on 15 January this year by the American magazine, The New Yorker, as saying:

"Angola would have been the ideal situation in which to test these [CBW] weapons. But Basson wanted to use them against our domestic opponents as well -- to impress the generals. But one of the major tenets of chemical warfare is that you don't use these things on your own soil."

William Finnegan, who wrote The New Yorker's 15 January piece, said: "I asked [Dr Odendaal] about the charge, often heard that the drinking water in the Eastern Cape district, a centre of political resistance, had been deliberately infected with cholera in the late 1980s.

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