Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Apartheid: Biological and Chemical Warfare Program

Assassination for God, Country & Money

During the late 1980s, Basson was hired to work for the Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB), which was established in order to prevent popular black military leaders from taking control of the government. It was believed that Basson supplied the CCB with lethal CBW to use against any possible threats to the South African apartheid regime. It was believed that Basson was connected with several assassination attempts ordered by the CCB to eliminate such threats.

Rev. Frank Chikane and Justice Minister Dullah Omar
Rev. Frank Chikane and Justice Minister Dullah Omar (Associated Press)
In 1989, there was an assassination attempt on Rev. Frank Chikane, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches and anti-apartheid activist. Rev. Chikanes clothes were saturated with a lethal nerve poison, purportedly produced at one of the front companies controlled by Basson.  According to reports later made by Africas Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), it was believed that Basson was directly behind the attempted assassination. It was the first of three such attempts to poison Rev. Chikane. Basson was believed to be the mastermind behind a similar assassination attempt against Justice Minister of the ANC government Dullah Omar, another anti-apartheid leader.

During the 1980s Basson continued to travel to many countries in an effort to obtain information and make contacts about foreign chemical and biological weapons programs. Basson was known to have traveled to countries, such as Denmark, Switzerland, Iraq, Israel, North Korea, Iran, Columbia, the Philippines, U.S., U.K., Germany and other European countries. It is believed that he was able to obtain a substantial amount of information that could be utilized in South Africas CBW program. In fact, it has been suggested that many of the countries Basson visited could have assisted in the development of South Africas CBW program, although there is little substantiating evidence.

While visiting many of the countries, Basson set up several other front companies. In actuality, the companies mostly existed on paper. According to Burgess and Purkitt, it was suspected that Basson and some of his colleagues created the shell companies in an effort to launder millions of dollars, allegedly skimmed from activities related to Project Coast.

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