Apartheid Leaders Used Drug Attacks on Blacks

By Ap | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 16, 1997 | Go to article overview

Apartheid Leaders Used Drug Attacks on Blacks


Ap, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The unmasking of the leader of a chemical warfare unit that operated under apartheid has spawned disclosures about secret or illegal attacks on blacks after white minority rule ended.

Allegations range from producing chemical weapons to pumping the black townships full of illegal narcotics and developing toxins to sterilize blacks.

Dr. Wouter Basson, 46, a prominent heart surgeon, was picked up Jan. 30 and charged with possessing 1,000 tablets of the popular designer drug Ecstasy. At his bail hearing last week in Pretoria, South Africa, it was revealed that he headed the army's 7th Medical Battalion. The shadowy chemical warfare unit was shut down shortly before the 1994 elections that brought President Nelson Mandela to power. According to a secret 1992 report, leaked to South African news media, the unit provided poisons used by agents in assassination attempts against those fighting the apartheid system. The poisons sometimes went into beers, soft drinks or clothing. In the report, Gen. Pierre Steyn - who now is South Africa's defense secretary - alleged that the unit supplied bombs used in attacks in neighboring Mozambique. Johannesburg newspapers have alleged that Basson's unit flooded the black townships with drugs to sow lawlessness while the white government negotiated with black leaders, and to rake in illegal profits.

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