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Basson's claims are rubbish, says Tygerberg

Published Jul 28, 2001

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Tygerberg Zoo management are outraged at claims by apartheid-era chemical warfare expert Wouter Basson that he had financial interests in the zoo and experimented on its animals.

The claims emerged in the Pretoria High Court this week when Basson, also known as "Dr Death", told the court that he bought a zoo in Cape Town with money supplied by mainly Libyan principals to research the use of animal hormones to control crowds.

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He testified that Project Coast had a co-operation agreement with universities in South Africa, who received payment for research through Armscor. Research was done on pheromones for crowd control, he said.

Research was done, for example, to establish how pheromones could be used to make a crowd nervous and therefore controllable, or on the other hand to make a crowd feel warm and calm.

Basson said that this type of research could not be done on tame animals and it was realised that access to wild animals had to be obtained.

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Basson said it was decided that his principals would acquire a zoo and that because of his family and other connections, it was decided that he would have operational control of such a facility.

Basson is facing 46 charges ranging from murder to fraud for acts allegedly committed while he was a high-ranking member of the apartheid-era military. He was the mastermind behind the regime's secret programme to develop biological and chemical warfare capabilities.

But John Spence, managing trustee and director of Tygerberg Zoological Preservation Trust, who has been with Tygerberg Zoo for 24 years said Basson's claims were nonsense.

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"No experiment has ever been done or will ever be done on any animal at the zoo. I would not have permitted something so ludicrous."

One of Basson's business associates, Tjaart Viljoen, earlier on in the trial testified that he has shares in the farm on which the zoo is situated. Viljoen claimed the land was acquired as part of a business deal involving a number of companies.

The case continues.

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