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Basson denies mixing drug cocktails to kill

Published Jul 30, 2001

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He never supplied anyone with deadly cocktails to be used on "enemies" of the former government or for any other purpose, Dr Wouter Basson told the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday, concluding his evidence-in-chief.

Asked by his legal counsel if cyanide was not a more humane way to kill people, rather than muscle relaxants such as Scoline and Tubarline, which were in fact used for killing anti-apartheid activists, Basson answered "yes".

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"Few killings can be humane, but death by cyanide is within seconds. Death by Scoline would take up to six minutes. And he would be aware of what was going on around him while he is suffocating," Basson explained.

"Cyanide would be a lot less trouble and a lot more effective than Scoline and Tubarline."

He told the court that the only substances he ever distributed were Valium-type medication for soldiers with a fear of flying. He also supplied calming substances in cases where nervous operators had to, for example, carry secret documents over a border post. The substance would calm their nerves and enable them to cross the border without trembling.

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Basson said he also supplied substances to operators who wanted to do "grab actions" across the border. This meant they had to nab a terrorist and bring him back to South Africa. They required substances which would incapacitate the person before he had time to sound an alarm.

"These I supplied from time to time, but I never supplied anything deadly. I was not asked to do so by anyone."

Confessed apartheid mass killer Johan Theron claimed he obtained deadly cocktails which he injected into his victims mostly from Basson or from doctors instructed by Basson. He claimed Basson even demonstrated on a victim how to inject to kill.

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Basson denied this.

He explained that there were many deadly substances available that were developed at Delta G and Roodeplaat Research Laboratory, both front organisations.

He also told the court that he supplied Special Forces members with cyanide capsules to give them the option if they were caught of facing a prisoner of war situation or taking their own lives.

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He was also questioned about the evidence of former hit-squad member Danie Phaal, who said Basson gave him a substance to use on a prisoner which made the man bleed profusely.

"If you gave the person the substance today and he bled tomorrow, it must have been glass or he was assaulted," Basson said.

He said he did not know of a substance that would cause internal bleeding so soon.

Another allegation he denied was Theron's evidence that they burnt a corpse in an oven at Special Forces headquarters in Pretoria.

Asked about deadly screwdrivers, walking sticks and umbrellas with poison tips, Basson admitted he had developed these. "These gadgets were never used within the South African Defence Force and I never got instructions to use them."

Basson is scheduled to face cross-examination by the state on Wednesday.

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