Leftist Groups In South Africa

1442 Words 6 Pages
Though the use of chemical weapons was ostensibly banned in the international community by the Geneva Protocol in 1925, the research and development of biological and chemical weapons was permissible until the Protocols were amended in 1975. However, a lack of enforceability by any international governing body allowed a nation like South Africa to secretly create its own such program, one that operated unchecked and actively employed its toxins and agents throughout the 1980s. With apartheid as the nation’s backdrop, the ruling power of South Africa faced foes both abroad in neighboring nations in the form of leftist and communist groups in Angola, Namibia, and Rhodesia, and at home in the oppressed black population it struggled to keep relegated …show more content…
Supported by Cuba and the Soviet Union, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) had risen to power. Seeking to enable neighboring leftist groups in conflict against South Africa, Angolan MPLA government, in March 1976, offered locations in Angola for the Southwest Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) from neighboring Namibia from which to launch attacks against the South African military. In its fight against these Soviet-backed Angolan communist forces, the South African Defense Force (SADF) became increasingly wary of the potential for the Soviets to provide various Angolan forces with chemical and biological weapons, and recognized the need to develop suitable vaccines and counter measures. SADF research and development was thus focused primarily on vaccines through the late 1970s, but by 1980 had begun to turn its eye toward offensive uses of the newly developed chemical and biological weapons capability. In 1981, South African president PW Botha pushed the SADF move in that direction, and tabbed his personal physician, cardiologist Dr. Wouter Basson, to begin working within a specialist unit of the South African Military and Health Service called 7 Medical Battalion Group. There, it was the task of Dr. …show more content…
Project Coast, like most countries’ chemical weapons programs, had initially focused on the development of standard chemical weapons for use as a last resort in military action, producing stores of lethal CX powder and mustard gas, nerve agents such as VX, irritant riot control agents like CS gas, as well as various anticholinergic deliriants. However, the circumstances of apartheid-era South Africa engendered a need for a focus on non-lethal agents as well. With internal dissent amongst the oppressed black population as a major concern for the military, Project Coast began to research non-traditional methods of crowd control and riot suppression, including weaponized forms of recreational illicit drugs such as MDMA, phencyclidine, methaqualone, and cocaine. MDMA and methaqualone in particular were major items of focus for the project, produced in large quantities and weaponized as powders and aerosol sprays that could be used as riot control when dispersed in vast quantities over crowds. Not least amongst the many abuses of the program committed by Basson, it was discovered during the TRC trial that Basson had sold large quantities of MDMA and methaqualone on the black market in tablet form, and was in fact found with 1000 ecstasy tablets when he

Related Documents