ON RESUMPTION ON 11 JUNE 1998
CHAIRPERSON: Ladies and gentlemen I would like to get an indication from Mr Vally as to which way we go.
MR VALLY: Thank you Mr Chair. The attorneys and counsel for Drs Mijburgh and Basson has indicated that he needs a bit more time this morning, so we will start off with Dr Goosen and then after Dr Goosen's evidence has been led and he has been cross-examined we will hear the reply to the argument raised yesterday by Mr Cilliers.
CHAIRPERSON: Very well.
MR VALLY: I see another problem. I don't see Mr Polsen here. Mr Polsen is the attorney for Mr Goosen, Dr Goosen I beg your pardon.
CHAIRPERSON: Is Dr Goosen here?
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman Gen Knobel is also here. We are ready to continue and he can continue, just to save time.
MR VALLY: ...in going ahead, but it may be wise to wait for his attorney. I assume there was a presumption by people that there would be the reply to the legal argument this morning and that's why Mr Polsen is not here.
CHAIRPERSON: There should be no presumption, the matter was adjourned to 9 o'clock for everybody. How do you want to play it then?
MR VALLY: If you will excuse me for a few minutes I just want to confer with my colleagues.
MR DU PLESSIS: Mr Chairman here is Mr Polsen.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Mr Du Plessis.
Mr Polsen welcome.
MR POLSEN: We are late this morning, unfortunately ...(intervention)
CHAIRPERSON: It happens to most of us. Good morning and welcome Dr Goosen. Before I ask Advocate Potgieter to swear you in may I just introduce one member of the panel who has not been with us but is with us today. To my extreme right, and as we always say it has nothing to do with their politics, it is Mrs Yasmin Sooka. She is the Deputy Chairperson of the Human Rights Violations Committee. She is a Commissioner and she is based in the Johannesburg office.
We have knowledge also of the presence of the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission who is in the hall here and who is looking after the interests of the Commission in making sure that using taxpayers money irresponsibly. Welcome Chief Executive Officer and Chief Accounting Officer.
Is it Mr Chaskalson or is it Mr Vally.
MR CHASKALSON: I will be leading Dr Goosen.
CHAIRPERSON: You will be leading Dr Goosen. If you could get Dr Goosen then to stand up so that he can be sworn in.
ADRIAAN JACOBUS GOOSEN: (sworn states)
CHAIRPERSON: Just to mention another ground rule. You will be totally welcome Dr Goosen to express yourself in the language you are most comfortable with. There are listening devices in the form of these head phones so that you shouldn't feel constrained at all even if questions come in English that you should reply in Afrikaans, if that's the language you would like to express yourself in.
MR CHASKALSON: Thank you Mr Chair. Good morning Dr Goosen.
Could you please tell us what your qualifications are?
DR GOOSEN: Good morning Mr Chaskalson. Yes Mr Chairman please I first have one question. I will try and stick to English. I can also speak Afrikaans and some Tswana, I can only swear in Sotho, so I'll stick with English.
Mr Chair I have one legal aspect to settle. Please I see everyone has a few problems, legalwise, and I'm not really trained in the legal field. I have signed an oath of secrecy under the Secrecy Act of the Government, and I have also signed a document with the Surgeon-General which binds me not to disclose anything of the companies for a period of ten years, and not to be involved in any activity, in the field of activities of the companies for then years. Now that period only expires in 1999. Now I want to know from you, how binding will this be on me? I have understood from the Surgeon-General way back in 1994, that those, all the matters were out in the open and we could speak freely. I am not bound anymore. But as I haven't yet had any written confirmation of that I would just like to hear the Commission's opinion on that.
MR POLSEN: Sorry Mr Chairman. I think my client's concern is something which I tried to allay his fears but for the record, and let us put it on record, that I think the Act that would perhaps be applicable is Act 84 of 1982, "Act Safeguarding Information". Now I think under the compulsion in terms of this Commission's Act it will be excusable and he will not be in difficulty as far as that Act is concerned.
The only other Act which I think it can possibly apply is the Proliferation Act, but we've got mechanisms in place to protect the particular Act in terms of the agreement with my colleague Mr Arendse here.
So I don't really foresee a difficulty and for the sake of the record we've recorded the concerns by the witness. Should he be approached at a later stage legally or otherwise his excuse will be perfectly legal.
CHAIRPERSON: Very well expressed Mr Polsen, and I think since it is you who is legally representing him I don't think you have to hear Mr Chaskalson on the point. I think you are spot on. It's on the record. It is a sense in which I also follow your reasoning as to the protections that are built-in in the other Acts.
MR POLSEN: Thank you.
DR GOOSEN: Thank you Sir. Sorry for the interruption. I will proceed with the answers now.
I am for the record 47 years old. I qualified in 1975, in April 1975 as a Veterinary Surgeon at the Veterinary School of the University of Pretoria Veterinary Faculty.
I have also achieved postgraduate qualifications in pathology, clinical pathology in 1978.
MR CHASKALSON: Have you specialised in any medical research?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman yes, there is no formal specialisation course or qualification for medical research per se. There are basic courses of which the ones I did in the pathology, physiology and the subjects I took for my postgraduate studies were physiology, toxicology and clinical pathology were amongst them and they was a very good basis for medical research. Afterwards though you start off as a research worker assistant, research assistant etc and you work your way up through international publications etc, etc, to become really a skilled or qualified scientist.
MR CHASKALSON: Have you published any scientific articles either locally or internationally?
DR GOOSEN: Chairman yes, unfortunately. I haven't got it with me but I can supply you with a complete list of publications in internationally recognised journals, several of them which are locally published and also several of them international publications. It is in the region of about 14 publications as first author and about twenty as second and even more as third author which means you were a co-worker in research teams.
If I can elaborate a little bit on the scientific side of it because I feel it's relevant later on and in the discussions we are looking for the truth and I feel one should look a little bit at scientists and what is a scientist. It is relevant. We were involved in a very, very high level of sophisticated science. Now a scientist only comes by experience and training, and scientists are controlled not by themselves, not by a boss, scientists are controlled by an international community of science. There are many rules and regulations in place internationally which controls science. The way science is done internationally is on the same standard all over the world. So all international scientific organisations, journals etc adhere to these levels of standards.
And I want to point that out to the Commission they must take it in mind in some of the future points that when we speak about good science and bad science etc, that science can be verified, and scientists can be evaluated for their achievements.
I also took part in writing some scientific books. I wrote a chapter on the standardisation of research animals in an internationally co-authored book which set the standards for research when using animals.
MR CHASKALSON: I'd like to return to these points at a later stage during our questioning.
Can you tell the Commission what you were doing prior to 1981?
DR GOOSEN: Chairman 1991, and I've sat here for three days and I've listened a lot about memories and fading memories and I must agree I have compassion with the people, it's a long time ago, but I will try to be as accurate as possible. If I am not sure of anything I will also indicate that I am not sure.
1991 I was working for the University of Pretoria, the medical faculty and also a joint appointment from the government through the provincial administration, the Department of Hospital Services. I was appointed from the side of the Department of Hospital Services the superintendent for research at the Medical School, and from the university side I was departmental head or director of the HA Grove Animal Research Centre, which was the centralised higher medical research facility for the university of Pretoria's medical faculty.
MR CHASKALSON: Can you tell us what happened next?
DR GOOSEN: Chairman in relation to where we are going in biological warfare, 1980, 1981, those years were the years of conflict. We also had reference from you Chairman previously to when was the conflict and when was the conflict over etc, which was very relevant I believe and this whole thing must be said against that background.
Those were the years of the increasing tempo in conflict both internally and externally. Those were the years we heard on the television all the time the total onslaught syndrome. And all the South Africans referring then to white people, which basically it was popular to exclude everyone else as a South African, but people like even Pik Botha, and I am sure it's on tape somewhere, continuously tell us the total onslaught syndrome, Communism is coming etc, etc, so we were motivated to support the government of the day and support them physically, joining up with the military, etc etc.
So while being involved in medical research we also did our part, many of our South Africans, white South Africans, also some black South Africans I believe, did their part in supporting the military's effort. In that effort I was involved with the Surgeon-General's office as being a special advisor for veterinary matters. This was a position I held since 1977 when I finished with my military service, the one year stint.
In 1977 veterinary service in the medical division of the army or the Defence Force was really non-existent. It consisted of about a few national servicemen, "dienspligtiges". After finishing my service I was assisting the Surgeon-General then, General Nieuwoudt in establishing a proper veterinary, I don't know what you call it exactly, division or whatever the military terms will be, but the veterinary facility for supporting animals used in war like the horse centres, the dog centres etc.
Later on I was more involved after this was established, after the appointment of a permanent officer, veterinary officer. I was involved in a research committee doing research for the military in developing or improving the efficacy of the use of these animals in the military situation, especially in the border situation in a bush war where horses were used for transport and dogs were used for tracking, sniffer dogs etc.
So in '81, '82 we had a group of scientists going doing this type of work in civilian institutions, involving places like the University of Pretoria, the Department of Genetics, the Faculty of Veterinary Science; my own institute at the HA Grove Animal Research Centre were involved in this.
Financially we had quite a bit of leeway those days if you were involved in the military effort and it wasn't really strictly controlled how much money was spent on this, that and the other. It was taken for care if you were director of a government institution you had a bit of freedom to spend money on military projects. What we got in return from the military was national servicemen that were qualified as microbiologists, geneticists etc, veterinarians to come and work in our institutions, and also apart from spending time on the military project also spend time on the civilian or the medical problems.
MR CHASKALSON: During this period did you meet Dr Wouter Basson?
DR GOOSEN: Chairman I cannot exactly remember the first time I met Wouter Basson. It was during the period. We were working on a project concerning trauma and the effects of trauma on the body, for instance after car crashes, train crashes, the complications after these type of trauma on the body was shock lung, and this project of course was of interest to the medical service of the army or defence force, and we approached the Surgeon-General for assistance in, or his interest in this project and the results of this project of treating trauma, because it was the same type of injuries which were sustained in the war situation. Either landmines or shootings or whatever, or infections lead to this. And in this connection with the Surgeon-General I believe Dr Wouter Basson, who was an internist, we made then contact with him on discussing the possibilities and advantages which this projects which we were doing might have and have been applied to in the military situation.
MR CHASKALSON: Can you tell us how you were approached to establish RRL?
DR GOOSEN: Chairman, yes. It was also in the '82 timeframe period, '82/'83 period, and it was against this background which I have explained to you now. And Mr Chairman please, I don't want to justify what we did giving you all this background but I just feel it's relevant. We acknowledged what we were doing.
In that time period I was also internationally recognised, became then recognised as a scientist in the laboratory animal area which was a basis for good science because animals were always used as models for medical research. I was approached one day by two persons, and I cannot remember their names, but I remember they came from a company East of Pretoria, in the Wilgers, and later on it was established it was Delta-G people, and they approached me for support for laboratory animals. They told me they had a company, a private company involved in producing chemicals of all sorts, household chemicals, pool acids, etc, etc, and as we all know these products need to be tested for their safety, environmental impact etc, etc, and again the animal is the only practical model to test it in. But they had no knowledge of animals and models for testing etc, and they've approached me to assist them in putting up a facility for themselves, and would I be willing to do it etc, etc.
Then being a private company I said no, surely we are keen to support the proper use and not the misuse of animals in research of which we had a lot of knowledge, but I am a civil servant and you know but surely I think it's to the advantage of the country to expand science and I would assist them. They would have come back to me, they never came back to me.
Then this trauma project with the Surgeon-General's department was under discussion and this also in the timeframe. It was after the visit from the Delta-G people. I had more contact with Wouter Basson. But firstly in the project I had a veterinarian seconded to my institute by the name of Dr James Davies.
MR CHASKALSON: Where was he seconded from?
DR GOOSEN: He was seconded from the Special Medical Services.
Now Mr Chairman I am not too sure what part of the Special Medical Services, but it was known that he wasn't from the normal medical and veterinary core. Mr Chairman President or ex President de Klerk promised me a long time ago he would explain to all of us the putting together and the unravelling of the special structures of the army, the BSB etc, in fact that was in December 1989, and he promised to tell everyone about everything before January 1990. I have never heard it, so please I cannot unravel where everyone fitted in, into these special operations business.
Anyway Davies was known, and it wasn't a secret to me, that he came from one of these special operational areas. But he was sort-of finished with his project and he was then available to serve out his term as a national serviceman, he was seconded to us to be available for research on the project.
He did work on the trauma project and he had some contacts with Dr Wouter Basson on that, and then we had some discussions on the military. We always had discussion on this thread. It was the topic of the day, and who was the enemy and who was not the enemy. And Mr Chairman if you ask me who was the enemy I will explain it to you, but I don't want to waste your time.
Anyway I was approached at one stage to - we were also working, let me put it this way, we were also working for the army on a project on snake venoms. The army was interested in buying a kit which could go with every platoon or section in the bush for the treatment of snake venom and this was the one for cutting - when the snake bit you, you cut yourself and you applied a suction apparatus and you suck out the venom and then you don't die from the snake bite, because being thousands of miles away, whichever country we were involved in at this stage, you won't be near proper medical treatment. And we've been working with snake venom for months, we've published on this, the treatment, the efficacy of the apparatus etc. We had access to all the snakes, mamba, cobra etc, boomslang whatever. Davies was involved in the animal side of this project also.
And then I was approached to, in '83, and I am not too sure if we had discussions of formally developing biological weapons by then or not, before this incident or after, it was around the same time, I was approached to supply some - if there would be a possibility if we could supply some poison to eliminate an enemy of the State.
MR CHASKALSON: Who requested you to do this?
DR GOOSEN: Wouter Basson, Dr Basson.
We also had discussions around those times on chemical and biological weapons with Dr Basson. You know you work on the project on trauma and you sit down and you wait for results and you have a cup of tea and then you discuss these things. What can be applicable and what no. So at some stage we started discussing chemical and biological weapons and what the efficacy will be and what their place will be. And then during that time I was also approached to supply him with some snake venom. We did supply some snake venom, mamba venom, and we also supplied the mamba with the venom.
We also did some toxicity tests to establish the dose in non-human primates to see what sort of dose could be used. I can tell you a minute quantity is necessary intravenously to kill someone instantaneously. Intravenously in fact ...(intervention)
MR CHASKALSON: We'd prefer it if you didn't go into the exact details of quantities necessary, thank you Doctor.
DR GOOSEN: Okay. It is published anyway. It's not proliferation, it's common knowledge.
DR RANDERA: Sorry, can you just tell us, however, how much of that poison did you - was that the only poison that you provided at that time or was there something else that you provided and how much did you provide?
DR GOOSEN: During that time we also provided something else but that was then in the time - then I was starting to being approached to create an official testing facility for the Defence Force, to test chemical and biological products. But before we've started with it, while I was still with the H F Verwoerd Hospital, I was also approached, and you've heard yesterday Dr Odendal at the time was the microbiologist employed by us for, no clandestine work, proper good scientific work, or positive effective work, we also were approached for some other endotoxins which we could supply to eliminate some enemies of the State and this is true. These toxins and the key behind it was from the beginning not to be two things - detectable and if it was detectable then it shouldn't be traceable.
In other words if you supply an endotoxin which is derived from a bacteria which is normally present in the gut flora of a human being, and you know with these toxins or these bacteria there are always some of them present in one's normal flora, so at any stage some conditions in your gut can go wrong and then the toxins can be produced and cause the disease. So you can extract or have these organisms produce a toxin and you can inject the toxin into your victim and you can detect that he died from this but you would not be able to say if it was given externally or if it was derived from his natural source of bacteria under favourable conditions. So therefore the term not detectable preferably, and if it's detectable then it shouldn't be traceable to a clandestine application.
And this was the request and there were some toxins which we worked on. Dr Odendal also explained on some of those toxins in his testimony and that was the type of stuff we worked on.
DR ORR: Dr Goosen who was it who requested these endotoxins and gave you the criteria of undetectability and untraceability?
DR GOOSEN: Dr Wouter Basson.
DR RANDERA: Dr Goosen, is it Mr or Doctor sorry it is Doctor is it?
DR GOOSEN: It doesn't matter Sir, Daan Goosen. You are welcome.
DR RANDERA: Let me just get this clear. At this stage there was no front company, you were part of a university academic department and you were being asked by the military to produce various poisons, be it in the guise of snake venom or endotoxins. Now earlier in your introductory remarks you talked about scientists and responsibility of scientists and how scientist's work is evaluated, now when it came to this sort of work, two questions -
1. Did this go through any of your ethical committees at university?
2. You mentioned Dr Odendal that he was involved in straight scientific work if you like, was he aware as to where these toxins were going to?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman, yes. I would like to address you, there are a few aspects which you've touched there. The ethical side and what do you think and what are you aware of etc, etc.
At that stage we were working in the following manner that Dr James Davies, who was seconded to us, he was sort-of then and we knew he had then contact with Dr Basson, he was doing the on-hand work. All the work done was done according to the guidelines of the ethical committees. All the work done was done according to the scientific rules and regulations which apply internationally. As I have said it was very easy. Dr Odendal produced the toxins as part of a project he had in producing models for shock, for work to treat, trauma patients. So that was there. The protocols were in place. The effects of these models were the results which could have been used applied in as a chemical weapon, or a biological weapon in this case.
So Chairman, and you must be very clear on this thing, the non-proliferation issue and how do you control that, that is not very easy. That is not very easy. What is proliferation and what is non-proliferation? In this instance is a clear example of what is the case. During normal good, proper, positive medical science these products are produced. They are standardised. You know exactly what is the dosage, what is the ...(indistinct). You know exactly how to produce it, because the scientists publish this internationally. This is my model for working on models to treat a human patient in shock. You understand what I am saying.
So there is no difference. In a lot of these instances, and I can come to others for you later, whenever you want to, there are differences in scale. There are places of control. There are mechanisms how you control and how you non-proliferate. There are very few people who are really in a position to do these controls and these measurements. I would be one of them. Why? Because I was involved in this. I was intimately involved in this in the scientific side. I know exactly about a lot of things. But what is more important I don't know what I don't know of many other things, and that you must also realise when you control these things.
So the ethical side of it - this is to answer you, how could we cover this ethically? It was covered already. So we had snakes, we were busy working with snakes, the treatment of snake bites. In the process we had snake venom, pure snake venom. It was approved, everything. Now in fact I took some of that snake venom to give to Dr Basson at six o'clock in the morning. That was the secret thing. To have him there early in the morning and James Davies and myself not to see everyone taking some of the venom. And we had a snake and we had a story and say okay we've milked the snake, it's finished. We had the snakes, we implant a marked venom - marked cells, radio-marked cells etc, so we had everything, but the secret was to have him there at six o'clock in the morning that nobody sees him picking this up.
In fact the morning he picked it up I dropped the vial with the snake venom and it broke, and it was on the floor and we had to draw it up with the syringe from the floor and put it back again. That was the way it worked.
The ethics of this, I don't know if you want me to ...(intervention)
DR GOOSEN: I think we may return to some of these points later but I would like to try and ...(intervention)
CHAIRPERSON: Can I just as a layperson understand what is being said. Do I understand you to be saying the production of snake venoms which would be used scientifically in order to - or to research around ways of defending people who are bitten by snakes, that went through the ethical committees because it was good scientific undertaking?
DR GOOSEN: That's correct Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: But the one thing that wouldn't go through the ethical committees would be where you are told at that level, at that six o'clock level ...(intervention)
DR GOOSEN: That's correct.
CHAIRPERSON: That you know we must also produce murder weapons ...(intervention)
DR GOOSEN: Yes Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: ...to assassinate political enemies of the State.
DR GOOSEN: Ja.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Chaskalson.
MR CHASKALSON: Thank you. Could you tell us when you were formally approached to establish RRL and how that came about?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman yes, that was during that timeframe of period '82, the first half of '83 when we were busy with these activities. Dr Basson himself asked me if I would be willing to establish a clandestine facility for the South African Defence Force to evaluate products, basically chemical weapons products and some biological weapons products.
During that same in '82, '83 I was involved with a group of people based in France, through South African, through the Development Corporation, the NOK, the Industrial Development Corporation of establishing a private company doing contract pharmaceutical research, testing the efficacy and the safety of new pharmaceuticals for European pharmaceutical companies. We were negotiating this and it was known to my friends and colleagues that I was busy negotiating with these people, I was offered then this project with a colleague from South Africa, a financial man, a 50% share in this Europe/South African joint company of establishing this. I was involved with the company in establishing the market, the international market for this type of work to be established.
The bottom line was that in Europe and America the requirements, and my friend Professor Folb will bear me out on this, the requirements for registering new medicines became stricter and stricter. They need to be tested more and more, safety and efficacy. But the pressure on the European scientific community for not using animals became also stricter and stricter. Legitimate arguments like rats and mice etc is not good models for testing because the human is not a rat or a mouse was applied. South Africa, though, had a clear abundance of non-human primates. Now non-human primates to keep them as laboratory animals in Europe and America was a very, very, very costly exercise and large sums of money were paid for these testing of drugs to have access to non-human primates. So that was the basis for this agreement. And I was specialising in fact in this non-human primate model business.
So I can tell you, yes, I was involved in international market studies. It was a very, very viable business. We were involved in putting up a multi-million rand company with money put in place, high investors, with personnel, with shareholding of Nobel prize winners in pharmacology etc, with scientists involved because to get contracts, nobody gives you a contract if you have lay-people in your company. So you need to have reputable scientists in your company and we had everything in place to form this company. And if you will excuse me I wouldn't like to mention the names of the people involved. It is, as I have said, even Nobel prize winners.
Dr Basson, and he was aware of this, we had discussions on this and the way we are going, and he said, "look man, for the country, we need this. Can you not establish a clandestine company for us along similar lines to this. Because you are known now to be involved in this".
MR CHASKALSON: By clandestine I presume you mean a company that would be known to the public but would actually be operating or at least partially operating for the South African Defence Force?
DR GOOSEN: Yes, yes Sir, this was a question around how would we do it? Would I use this other one which I am involved in or not? No, not the other one, not the private one which I was really private with, but a clandestine front solely for the military. I had to make a decision then between the two options - either to go and work for the military and the country, sort-of producing under the same front, "dekmantel - dit was die dekmantel for hierdie maatskappy" - "that was the cover for this company" because Goosen was busy to develop a toxicological company. Everybody knew I was busy with that. The names just varied.
I had to decide if I wanted to go completely in a private business or if I wanted to join or facilitate the army in their effort on starting this facility of evaluating chemical and biological weapons. Chairman I believe someone said the other day they have good judgement, it comes only after 50 years of experience, and 50 years of experience comes from bad decisions. So I believe I made the wrong judgement at that stage. I opted for supporting the effort from the government. I was in fact flown, scheduled to fly to France, and I did fly to France to sign the final documents for the European/South African company, and I flew in, we had an half-an-hour discussion and I had to stay there two weeks because the planes were not leaving because we stopped the business then. That was the end of my option of being involved financially for myself in a 50% share in that company. I gave that up to be involved with this effort for the military.
So we had a lot of arguments on how exactly to set this company up.
MR CHASKALSON: Could you tell us who "we" are?
DR GOOSEN: Dr Wouter Basson and myself.
MR CHASKALSON: And it was only the two of you having this discussion?
DR GOOSEN: Just the two of us, yes. The initial discussions were amongst us and it went on for over a period of time. We didn't sit down in one session and sort out everything. This, as I have explained, was coming along over some time.
I learned from him that there was already a company in existence, a front company, producing the chemicals. Initially I didn't know which one, later I've learnt from him that it was Delta-G. Then I knew also the connection that that was the people that approached me about a year before to help them with the assistance of lab animals.
I've asked Dr Basson, at one stage, but I've met you here and we had some dealings and we had some business and we did some science etc, or we at the Institute did the science for him, he wasn't really involved in developing anything, who was he and what does he represent and how can I know that all these promises he makes that he can supply the money to put up the facilities, pay the salaries etc, etc, could be in place? He was at that stage, I believe, a colonel. He might even be a commandant still, a lieutenant colonel. So I asked him who are you? Where do you come from? So he said no, no, I am Wouter. I am a medical doctor, internist, but I can tell you one thing the generals listen to me, don't you worry. I promise you, the generals listen to me. You can make your plans, you can give up your plans, carry on.
Okay, then I made the commitment. I had to make the commitment then finally to him and say okay I will go with you because I had to make - before I was open with him I had to decide between the options. After I made the commitment I was then introduced to the people higher up who was the Surgeon-General, General Nieuwoudt, Nicol Nieuwoudt. He is deceased already I believe.
MR CHASKALSON: Did you meet with any of the other higher-ups, or was it just the Surgeon-General?
DR GOOSEN: No Sir just the Surgeon-General.
MR CHASKALSON: And did you continue that discussion as to how the company should be formed, whether it would be best to be a private company or whether it should be falling formally within the SADF structures?
DR GOOSEN: Ja. Yes Sir, this was discussions I had with Wouter Basson. I argued this matter also in the presence then of Surgeon-General Nieuwoudt. At the meeting I think the 2 I/C, my friend General Knobel might have been present, Charl Jackson might have been present. This was sort-of the more formal meetings to establish this company and how should the company be established. I was quite prepared that we establish this as a military unit under the control, the financial and hierarchial structure in the military, because I worked in a government department, strictly controlled, budgeted, all the bureaucratic things in place. I have dealt with the military for many years and I have no problem in working for "volk en vaderland" for this matter inside the military.
The final arguments pushed from Wouter's side basically was that, no, we cannot do this in a military milieu because the movement of the production side of the company will be too slow in the bureaucratic systems.
Secondly, you will not be able to recruit the very top scientists which were needed into the military situation. And it was agreed upon then by the Surgeon-General, and I also supported the point at that stage then that we do this as a front company.
But Mr Chairman you must also remember now this was just the post-info scandal and the public and the government and the politicians and everyone was very, very aware of the mismanagement of taxpayers' money. And that was why I said look, I don't want to be involved in the info thing, this is taxpayers' money, I want to have it clean etc, etc. And I brought up the thing of doing it within the military per se then.
But once agreed upon that it should be a front company, a clandestine operation, we set about to do that.
CHAIRPERSON: Can Dr Randera ask a clarification question.
DR RANDERA: Dr Goosen just make us understand at the time of setting up the company you decide to ask Dr Basson who is he, where does he come from? You are making enquiries as to his status within the military establishment. But when you talked earlier on about passing on toxins to him, whether it be snake venom or endotoxins, were you not asking those questions already and not made up your mind as to who this person was and what his status was? Because surely you are not going to hand over work that has been scientifically done by your colleagues, because that's what I understood you to be saying?
DR GOOSEN: Yes, yes, no, Mr Chairman I understand your question, I can reply to that, that it's two different matters. The one I have no doubt that he was connected to the military. I had no doubt that he was connected to special operations. I had no doubt that he had a lot of very, very top information on the war situation. He recited for us, many times, the structures of the ANC. Who were the enemies etc, etc, he convinced us of this threat and what the people planned etc, etc. So that was no problem that I knew he was connected and I knew he was from the military. We had formal official projects.
If I import a dog from Israel, a special desert dog that could withstand the desert conditions in Namibia and give him this dog to go and fight a war, that's one thing. Giving him a bit of poison - I know he was fighting in the war and I assumed it to be legitimate for the government then.
But if he comes to you and says "look, I want you to sacrifice your career", I was at that stage '82, what 30, 35, something like that. I was - we can recite the few of my - if you want to establish my credentials but I was young and I had a promising career. I had to sacrifice that to go into this effort on this man's word. Then I wanted to know more, really, did he have the backing of millions to establish this facility ...(intervention)
DR RANDERA: Sorry Dr Goosen you've answered my question.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Chaskalson.
MR CHASKALSON: So it was decided that a front company would be formed. Can you tell us what the brief that you were given for this front company was?
DR GOOSEN: Yes Mr Chairman. The brief for the company developed. It started off as one thing and then it expanded. The first instruction or the first line of thought was to establish an evaluating facility. This is exactly the same facility as we planned to do. In other words use animals, animal models to determine the effectivity, in this case the lethality, or damaging effect of substances using animals as models.
I have then learnt, and this was in the very early days before we officially launched the company, it expanded the brief that there was a chemical company already producing chemical weapons, chemical substances. It remains a weapon. And there was no facility to produce biological weapons. So it expanded then or it later on also included to create an ability for the country to test, in the first place; and secondly, develop biological and even chemical weapons.
Now Mr Chairman defensive and offensive, the whole argument, if I may elaborate one second. Defensive and offensive was not really a topic of discussion. We were in a war situation and a weapon is a weapon. A weapon can be used offensively or defensively. So I have a bit of a problem with all this big discussions around was it a defensive capability or was it an offensive capability. It was a capability. The applications of the weapons was not supposed to be our problem. But in discussions I've had and already outlined to you, there was no doubt in my mind, and there was no doubt in anybody's mind, that it was offensive, intended to be used offensively.
There are certain things which cannot be explained as being defensively, and I don't want to go into details. One can speak to the broader principles and put the issue aside for once and for all.
If you build a factory and planned a factory like Delta-G, which I have seen the plans and know about them, it is a factory producing to the quantities of tons, chemicals in the quantities of tons. Okay you can produce defensive neutralising stuff in tons. It is a possibility.
But then our final brief, or the other brief was, and very, very important one, was to develop a product to curtail the birth rate of the black population in the country ...(intervention)
MR CHASKALSON: Could you tell us a little bit more about this. Who asked you to develop this product?
DR GOOSEN: The person who directly instructed us or asked us to do this was Dr Basson. Now there was a lot of talk about the ethics of this, that and the other and the rest, and he spent some time quoting to us the censorship figures of 1982 or '81 or whenever the census was, I can't remember exactly, that the census office stopped counting the black people when they reached 45 million. And the government decided that it is not feasible to make known to the public that there was 45 million blacks. It was just too many. And this was mainly one of our big threats. I think the figure of about 28 million was made known. Now if those were true facts I wouldn't know. Up till today I don't know. But that was presented to us by Dr Basson.
This very fact - now I agree again with what Dr Schalk van Rensburg said. If you make the product and there are very, very good legitimate reasons for making the product and for my own ethics I was convinced and believed that if an ethical product, which doesn't cause pain, permanent damage etc, could be developed it could also have been in the advantage of the black people because of purely over-population. Taking for granted that these figures were true that were quoted to me we would run out of water, we would run out of natural resources etc, etc. I cannot deny this, gentlemen, this is what we discussed. This was why we started.
CHAIRPERSON: Ms Sooka.
MS SOOKA: You are saying that you overcame your own moral scruples on the basis that this product would be to the advantage of the black population, and in a sense without any form of consent you found that this was legitimate. As a scientist was that a rational explanation, or justifiable reason?
DR GOOSEN: Chairman, I can answer you now, unequivocally no. I made a mistake. If you take me back to that time period, and remember in the time period in 1982 I was sitting in the hospital when the bomb exploded in Church Street. I was there helping people full of blood, black people also coming in. So maybe we were not thinking rationally, but I might have taken the same decision again. But today I know it was wrong. You cannot, you cannot prescribe to people that type of thing. It is not justifiable.
DR RANDERA: Dr Goosen can we just not pass this issue about mistake. When people say it was a mistake and these conversations took place, can you be more precise about that. Because was it a mistake or was it a belief system, a culture that prevailed at the time that said you know, black people were not of equal standing that without their consent we should be producing substances to control and to make a decision, in a sense?
DR GOOSEN: Yes, Chairperson, yes. ...(intervention)
DR RANDERA: What I am trying to say is, let's not, we are using words it's not that easy to say it was just a mistake.
DR GOOSEN: Chairperson yes. I hear what you are saying and that is exactly right. That is what we did. We felt in the environment we were operating in that we had the right to decide what was good for other people.
You ask me, do I think I am a racist? No, of course not. I am not a racist. I have many black friends. I grew up on the farm, I played with the black people, everything. It wasn't a thing which was directed against hating blacks or whatever. But that was the environment, that was the climate that was created around us by the propaganda of the politicians and everyone of the day. And this is one thing which I, as a scientist, feel very strongly about, and it grieves me.
And I have - we can get later to that, but in a period of time I had very tough times handling these things emotionally, without any assistance from anyone. Psychologically very, very tough. I had nervous breakdown on all of these issues and many things. We suffered as scientists a lot I can assure you, and I cannot make this good.
But what grieves me is that the people that created this climate is now denying it. Like if you listen to a person like Minister Pik Botha you would have sworn he was born an ANC member. He never said total onslaught, Communism - that's the enemy. Never. He denies. And this is what grieves me Mr Chairman, that they are ducking their responsibility for what they did. Because I have no doubt in my mind that those are the responsible people that created the climate. And they supplied the money, Mr Chairman to do this.
MS SOOKA: May I follow that up with one question because part of what we are supposed to do is explore motives and perspectives. You talk on the one hand of being in a war psychosis mood, and you talk about the total onslaught, but really the bottom line would be to control the numbers of black people, and it's the end product of that is really to maintain the supremacy of a white minority group in the country at the time. So from your perspective which, I mean at the end of the day what was the real reason for creating this kind of product? Would it be the control of the population rate to maintain the status quo?
DR GOOSEN: Yes Madam. I of course can't conclude but my belief I can express, and that was my belief. I once sat down with Wouter and we had many discussions. He visited me at home many times and we sat down and we had a beer and we ate biscuits etc. He was very fond of a particular type of biscuit. I asked Dr Basson, "Wouter, why are you involved in this? Why are you involved in this. Because you are not getting for yourself a company because I've got the company, I've got the BMW, I've got the three storey house". I had it, that luxury lifestyle. Everyone thinks Goosen, my goodness he is great. That's true. And I asked him why Wouter are you doing this? And he said, I've got one daughter and one day, and he said we don't really have any doubt that the black people will take over the country, but one day when the black people take over the country and my daughter asks me, Daddy what did you do to prevent this, my conscience would be clean. And I must admit that was the psychosis which prevailed. And you can blame me for that, I have played my part in it. That is true, and I am sorry about it. But I was not guilty alone.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes Mr Chaskalson.
MR CHASKALSON: To stay on the issue of fertility research, I presume that one would have had to dispense of, in targeting a certain segment of the population, in this case the black members of the country, you would not be able to develop a specific drug, you would have to find a mechanism to get it to them, is that correct?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman, no. The mechanism to get to it, to the people, was the last thing you would research. You would first research the drug and the method and then depending on what that would predict for you the circumstances if it would be viable to give it in the beer or in the maize or in the vaccinations, it would decide now depending on what type of drug you have of course.
And by the way Mr Chairman this project was known, personally I know, up to the level of the Surgeon-General, because the Surgeon-General visited us, both General Nieuwoudt and General Knobel taking over for it. When General Nieuwoudt was leaving the service, retiring, he visited us on a Saturday morning and when walking out of it, and we have explained all these projects to them, we had project meetings in fact, explained it to them, this anti-fertility project and the progress and the possibilities etc, and when they walked out he said, Nieuwoudt in the presence of General Knobel, this is the most important project for the country. That is the truth.
MR CHASKALSON: Will it be possible to find a drug or a vaccine which would only be effective on pigmented people?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman the newspapers and non-proliferation people can listen clearly. And we have spent some hours and time on this proposition, on a drug effective against pigmented people only, yes, Dr Basson and myself. In 1983, '84, I am not too sure when, Dr Basson presented me with a document, with a scenario and a document. This document was delivered, he said, to the military attache in London, and this document contained a proposition from someone in Europe, and this guy says he's got a product, a bacteria, which has got the possibility of only affecting, making sick and killing pigmented people. That was in 1984.
Dr Basson asked me to research this fully, investigate it literature-wise. Not doing physical work on it, but to study the literature and the possibilities scientifically. Is that a possibility or not? And I did an extensive literature research and studied the sciences around it and we felt, concluded, and I shared it with him, that it is a definite possibility. Because this guy said, if we South Africans, the South African government is interested in that we should place an advertisement in a London newspaper and then he will make certain arrangements to contact us with this product.
Now Chairperson the ethics again of this. And Dr Basson and myself discussed that, and we have also discussed this with General Neil Knobel. What should we do with this?
Now Mr Chairman maybe I can give you an example. The space war, the star war weapons programme of America had the purpose of developing a weapon that can destroy anything, any place on earth. The most sophisticated weapon. That was the purpose of the star wars programme. The mission, the mission of the programme was to maintain world peace. Do you hear what I am saying? And we have discussed this aspect, the three of us. What do you do with this and it was decided it would be good if the government had this weapon. Not intended, not of thinking of using it at any stage, but using it as a negotiating back-up to know what your strength is, what you can do in a crisis situation. Now I have been asked many times, how can you do these things and what can you do, and it is easy to convict from England or from America; it is easy to convict India and those guys if they want to develop an atomic bomb, but they have got to think themselves.
So again, if a thing like this can be used to maintain peace, but what is peace? Peace is the strongest disempowerer and this was being the strongest. And again where was the wrong? The wrong was for the white people, basically, to try and stay in power. So not per se, not necessarily for having such a weapon as this.
Chairman what happened was that it was decided I would go to London and try and make contact and try and follow this lead up. In the same week before I would have left some people from Armscor were lead into a trap in Paris and arrested by a similar type of bait. And the day before I left I sat with my friend Dr Knobel in his office and decided what is the risk for me now, it might just be a trap or might not. And we didn't know. And I went over and I decided to leave it. It might have been a trap. So we never followed the lead.
To come back to your question, is it possible? Scientifically yes, I believe it is possible. I will discuss later on the real scientific threads of biological weapons and how can you control it. It is frightening, Chairman, frightening. This programme of Coast hasn't touched it. We have tried to but we were stopped before we could close to it. I will elaborate on it later.
MR CHASKALSON: Can you tell us what your responsibilities as a managing director of RRL were?
DR GOOSEN: Chairperson, yes, I was managing director. Supposed to be the boss on the ground level. That's what managing director meant. Establishing the programme. Erecting the physical facilities. Recruiting, head-hunting the suitable scientists and establish this facility for the government. Very, very strictly we were informed that this will be a military operation. This will be a government facilitation. I have registered the company in my name with three other shareholders.
MR CHASKALSON: Who were the shareholders?
DR GOOSEN: The shareholders were myself, David Palmer, Andre Immelman and later on Schalk van Rensburg.
MR CHASKALSON: Did you receive shares?
DR GOOSEN: We received each one 25% of the shares. When receiving the shares, the certificate, at the same time we have signed a transfer document again, and that was handed back to Dr Basson.
MR CHASKALSON: Whose name was the transfer document made out to?
DR GOOSEN: Blank. The structure of the company was to be, for front purposes, be run as this company I would have established to do contract research.
MR CHASKALSON: Was your international, or your national respectability and name important to that front?
DR GOOSEN: Absolutely.
MR CHASKALSON: Do you think it would have been possible for this front company to operate effectively with a managing director who was not from the scientific community?
DR GOOSEN: Chairperson, not at all.
MR CHASKALSON: We will return to this point at a later stage. Did you interact with the scientists during your time as the managing director?
DR GOOSEN: Yes Sir.
MR CHASKALSON: Were you aware of the research that was being done at the facility?
DR GOOSEN: Yes Sir. The research at the facility and the need to know principle and what must be done was a very interesting situation. We had very broad guidelines on what to do and we had a reasonably free hand to do what needs to be done. The guidelines I have explained about, which was the establishment of the evaluation facility and establishing a biological ability. We ended up - not ended up but it developed soon that practically we have developed very, very comprehensive physical facilities, laboratories capable of handling research up to the P4 level. Facilities capable of employing GLP, good laboratory practice; GMP, good manufacturing practice; which compares the iso-standards, which Dr Swanepoel claimed to have been - went to look for in the nineties, we've developed it in the early eighties because that was necessary for good standards. We have agreed that if you are scientifically involved in this type of work it needs to be done at the highest level of quality you can do. Because it's not stuff to be playing around with.
Now we developed basically a few lines of, fields of research and I want to classify them as follows:
Firstly, and this is excluding our testing side of it, but the research and development - firstly, we employed Dr Andre Immelman who was professor of toxicology, and it was a good move to employ Dr Immelman because the first thing I have asked myself when trying to identify someone to employ was the question of integrity. Does he have integrity? Because being involved in such serious matters I needed people with integrity.
Secondly, scientific standing. To do and to say you are doing toxicology work for the world you need the top toxicologist in the country - which he was.
Thirdly, we had a request and a - not a demand, a "behoogte" a need, a need, given to us from Dr Basson for developing certain products. Now I can put these products under the name of dirty tricks. These are the individual things which we have seen listed here which are not weapons of mass destruction, this is like a pistol. Shooting one by one. Being a toxicologist Dr Immelman was suitably qualified and had experience in the toxins, toxic chemicals, toxic plants in a wide range. And he was a top person for that position, and that was why he was employed as a director.
The second scientific side we got going was the one of reproductive physiology. And the reproductive physiology we earmarked Dr Schalk van Rensburg for, and there was a slight difference between myself and Wouter Basson. I know he thought Dr van Rensburg was the wrong guy to be involved with. He didn't tell me then because he approved his appointment. Dr Schalk van Rensburg had reproductive experience and he was also involved in the micro-toxins, which is the toxic type of thing which was necessary.
We earmarked Professor Riana Borman, who was working on impotency and infertility, specialising in research areas in those fields. And they would start at that then the most sensitive and important project for us.
And the third line which we said alright, we must give this attention was the one of the development of biological weapons. Now the new generation of biological weapons is tied in with the genetic engineering field, and this is - and Dr Odendal has touched on some of these products when he said they developed an anthrax which was resistant to penicillin. Now this genetic engineering, molecular biotechnology, recombinant products, these names are all very highly sophisticated science. This is where you have to transfer gene material, which is the basis of life, the basis of everything, from one organism to another organism. And that is very, very difficult work to do, and Dr Odendal started out a division in that side. Now you don't establish that within one month. There was no trained, no trained people in the country in genetic engineering and biotechnology. Only one or two people in one or two of the universities were involved with this type of work.
I would like to come back later when you would like to hear something about non-proliferation, on how you then really - what is the possibilities of this and how can one control it, if you would be interested.
But that was what we set out to do.
MR CHASKALSON: Just almost at a tea break I would just like to quickly take you up to the period where you were removed from managing director. Yesterday we heard from Dr Swanepoel who told us that when he took over the company was in, and I may not be using the correct word, but his description was that the company was in chaos, it was in shambles, there was a horrible state of disorder. What is your feeling about the state of the company at the time you were removed as managing director?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman I really think it would be a waste of time for us to get into the mud-slinging between myself and some of my previous, or other friends and people. The state of the company was the following:
It was in 1985, the end of 1985, the beginning of 1986, we started, I started the 1st of November 1983 with nothing. Myself. By 1986, the end of 1985, the beginning of 1986 we have built and completed a physical facility, the laboratory side of it. We have employed the core people. We have traced them, employed them, and I can vouch when we started out good, honest, integrable, quality people. We have employed them. We had many discussions and studies in hand.
We had many projects to start in place and we were starting with the projects. We did some work already. We have spent in the region of just over six million rand.
And by the way I received R50 000 per annum when I got there, and I can remember it even yesterday and tomorrow and the day after, and when I left it was R87 000 and the total package was about R150 000. Excuse me Mr Chairman, but that was my salary.
We had two audits, two full internal audits, two external audits from Pierre Theron, Coopers & Lybrandt, and they are still involved Coopers & Lybrandt in the project and they still have some of the figures and I think they should be looked at, this financial side of things. I will explain that later to you. But by 1986 we had two audits behind us and we can compare the queries on the audits between the period I was managing director. You are free to do that. But that was the state of the company.
I just want to conclude that I know that Roodeplaat has been visited by overseas experts on a non-proliferation basis and they have evaluated the facility which was established under my management with my colleagues, but large inputs from my side, they have evaluated it to be amongst the best in the world. Even better than those produced by the Russians.
MR CHASKALSON: Dr van Rensburg described the appointment of Dr Swanepoel as the end of the future. Would you concur with that statement?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman I wouldn't like to blow my own bugle, I would just like to say it was nice for me to listen to Dr Schalk van Rensburg. It wasn't so nice to listen to Dr Swanepoel. I am a human being. But I believe the stage was set for a good future, and I believe removing a person like me from the company was detrimental to it.
I had discussions with Dr Basson. I had discussions with Dr Neil Knobel and I had discussions with General Nieuwoudt on this change of management and how it should be handled. Because I believe it was, for one thing, a very serious security breach by bringing in a completely unknown managing director, unrelated to the field at all ...(intervention)
MR CHASKALSON: By that do you mean that it would be difficult for the company to pose as a private company with somebody without the requisite knowledge at the helm?
DR GOOSEN: Ja. Without the knowledge, without the contacts I had. I brought in the projects. I brought in several overseas projects to keep up the front. They followed me. In fact scientists got off the plane in Johannesburg to do work in Pretoria, where I was, and when they heard I wasn't there you know what, they packed up and left. Not working at Pretoria anymore. They wanted not to be involved if I wasn't involved in the research.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Chaskalson I suggest this should be the end of this segment. The future will be at 11 o'clock when we begin.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Chaskalson?
MR CHASKALSON: Thank you.
Dr Goosen, yesterday we heard of a meeting or possibly an informal discussion in which Dr van Rensburg said that you had told people something to the effect that their lives may have been in danger if they tried to leave the company, is this correct?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman no, the way you phrased it is not correct.
MR CHASKALSON: Could you tell us what happened?
DR GOOSEN: It's not when you try to leave the country ...[intervention]
MR CHASKALSON: Company.
DR GOOSEN: Ja, it's not when you try to leave the company, you were free to leave the company. It was when you tried to jeopardise or undermine or give out the secrets we would have had the full, the secret thing we signed, that Act on us and I believe it is high treason and high treason is a capital charge. So that is the situation.
If you jeopardise the security or the projects etc., you could have been charged and the death penalty could have been imposed on you.
MR CHASKALSON: The understanding that I had from Dr van Rensburg is that he was talking about a threat from some or other people, is this not correct?
DR GOOSEN: Chairman, I did convey at a official meeting, I think it was a board meeting, that everyone must understand the seriousness of the business of the company and not make light of it because by implication it is true, that if you jeopardise the security of the company you could find yourself in you know, charged with high treason and high treason is a capital offence.
MR CHASKALSON: Can you tell us your perceptions of how the other scientists related to the change in management, that is when Dr Swanepoel replaced you?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman, my perception was and based upon what by many scientists, that they were not sure why I was replaced, they were very unsure about the command structure and there was a bit of fear in the background, if this could happen so easily, me being replaced just like that, everyone felt a little bit threatened. You can also - it is on record and it is available or it can be available, written testimonies to this effect.
MR CHASKALSON: We were told yesterday that you were moved to the Roodeplaat Breeding Enterprises at this time, is that correct?
DR GOOSEN: Yes.
MR CHASKALSON: And you conducted work which was not strictly related to the programme during this period.
DR GOOSEN: Yes.
MR CHASKALSON: Were you at any stage during this - sorry, let me start again. Dr Swanepoel said that would, you still remained under his control during this period, is that correct?
DR GOOSEN: Yes, Mr Chairman.
MR CHASKALSON: At any stage were you approached by Dr Swanepoel as to what was going on at RRL since you had left?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman, I'm not too sure ...[intervention]
MR CHASKALSON: Did Dr Swanepoel request your assistance with the running of RRL?
DR GOOSEN: Chairperson yes, it's an interesting situation, I'll try and be brief. I was removed from a management position. We had at that stage when I left, we had RBE, Roodeplaat Breeding Enterprises.
We had a plan to add another Directorate to RRL and this Directorate would be just a Directorate of RRL and it would have been run by Mr John Greyvenstein who was coming from ESCOM and he was an expert in the security dog business. And we already approached him and recruited him to be Director of this Directorate.
Then I was removed as Managing Director and they sat with me for four months. Dr Swanepoel in his own words told me later on that the whole thing around me was like a storm in a tea cup, there's really nothing to it but anyway he trained me well in four months because in those four months I really had no area to operate in. I was not allowed to do anything at RRL. I was not allowed to do anything, Greyvenstein arrived, he reported to Swanepoel and then they decided no, the Directorate must become a new company, a subsidiary company for RRL and I should be the Managing Director of the subsidiary company, so then it would create a legitimate thing for me, not to be so embarrassed by my situation sitting in the cupboard because everyone in the company knew I was sitting in the cupboard.
So I became Managing Director of RBE. Being Managing Director of RBE in the presence and with the Director John Greyvenstein who was of course also an expert in the field, you had two cocks on one heap. And of course, I mean this is management wise I think, a stupid move, to do that, have two cooks running the same thing and it led to conflict.
The conflict was resolved by dismissing my friend John Greyvenstein, you can speak to him, and I was - stayed on, remained as Managing Director of RTO. That was in '86. By '86, RTO was thought to be a very good idea, there was very legitimate talks at the time of privatising a lot of State functions and the one was a very good one of consolidating and privatising the security dog business, the police, the army and Eskom, the railway and also the prisons. We worked out new and improved techniques of breeding, training and raising dogs and we've charged the clients for that R10 000 for a trained dog.
Now the estimates by the government, the government Auditor-General estimated the cost of a dog to the army at that stage to be R27 000 and we succeeded in producing successfully these dogs and producing them to the army at R10 000, saving R17 000.
I was visited at one stage by the management of RRL including Dr Andrè Immelman, Spalmer, everyone and they've looked at the operations of RBO and Andrè Immelman himself wrote me a letter which is also available, congratulating me on the excellent operation we were running. That was in '87 and in '87 I was definitely approached and appointed again as the "Bestuurder, Hoof van die Proefdier Eenheid, die Proefdier Sentrum". (Head of the Experimental Animal Centre).
Now the lab animal unit was physically the largest and the heart of the RRL facility. That was where all the research was being done. That came about because when I was with RBO international scientists came, also contacts of mine still from previous years, came to do projects on baboons at RRL.
And there wasn't a backup amongst the people to supply and assist in these projects and I had to go back and do the project. And in doing the project I was shocked that the standard of the management of the research facility, it was not up to international standards, it was below standard. In fact, the rats and the mice were running freely around in the corridors, the baboons were dying without water over weekends and I was shocked. So Dr Swanepoel asked me to come back and please help him because he couldn't rectify the situation under his management, and there was written proof of that, that I was asked to come back.
So then we asked Tjaard Viljoen to also be involved in the management and that was in the time period referred to by Dr Swanepoel, that I couldn't be got hold of because: "he was not here and there and everywhere". He realised that it was a bit much asking one person to be Managing Director of one company and also having a vital role to play in the other company.
We got the assistance of Mr Tjaard Viljoen to assist with the management in the RBE company.
MR CHASKALSON: Sorry, what recommendations did you make to Dr Swanepoel as to how RRL could be brought back to its standards?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman, it was clear to me that the main function of a Managing Director is to give decisions. That is what it means, if matters come up. And he was Managing Director and he was the authority in the company and notwithstanding what he was saying he knew very well what was going on.
He was informed on all the projects and what they meant and what they could do but he didn't have the basic knowledge to base decisions between scientists and give right decisions on these matters. This created a lot of conflict in the company, as was discussed already.
And one of these aspect was of getting the control and standards back in the laboratory animal facility. The control there was gone because every scientist tried then and has been in control of his own little experiments and that of course can't work, that's unscientifically.
Nevertheless what happened is that we still needed to say we had a contract research facility and we had to conform to the legal requirements of having been inspected and tested by outside independent inspectors. And one such inspection was done by the Medical Research Council on the quality of our laboratory animals. Their finding was that there was sub-clinical and clinical disease prevalent amongst our rat colonies and our laboratory animals.
Now of course, it doesn't need much explanation to see that when your animals you're using in doing all these things are sub-clinically sick, they will not react normally and you will get false results. This is known phenomena in the laboratory animal world, that you do these tests regularly prescribed and when you get a breakdown in this disease situation there are certain steps you need to follow to rectify it. You need to close down the facility, you need to clean out all the animals, you need to import new stocks, genetic microbiologically defined stock from wherever in the world they are available.
So I confronted him with this scenario and said: "We have to close down, we have to this, this is what is expected of us now to do", and he said: "No man, let's cover it up and carry on". He wasn't interested in closing it down and I said: "Look but it can't work this way and you cannot manage the ...[indistinct] the way you are approaching it".
Basically his approach was, he is a Manager and his business was to manage scientists but he knew nothing about scientists and science which was just the proof it didn't work. It is another point which I feel, you cannot have any control on these projects if the person in charge doesn't know what to control.
I felt I cannot work with this. Morally then it was for me the biggest problem to be faced with what we were doing and then to be knowing we were doing it with tools which is not kept intact, so that nullified our science, which for me then was morally, at that stage, in that milieux, completely unacceptable.
So I requested him that we solve this problem, he said: "No", I said: "I've requested to see the superiors" ...[intervention]
MR CHASKALSON: Who were the superiors?
DR GOOSEN: The superiors we considered to be Dr Wouter Basson and the Surgeon-General.
MR CHASKALSON: Did you have any meetings with either of those two people?
DR GOOSEN: No, it was, he told me quite directly that his "opdrag" is to solve all problems under him and not refer it.
MR CHASKALSON: Did you try on your own to bring this to ...[intervention]
DR GOOSEN: Yes.
MR CHASKALSON: Carry on please.
DR GOOSEN: I've tried on several occasions. Some of these concerns, when I was removed from the office of Managing Director initially in 1986, General Knobel and I had a long discussion one Saturday in my offices at Roodeplaat about the management change. You've asked me previously Mr Chairman, this management change.
And we agreed upon the management, that the management should be done by someone with some insight in the science and I've said if they are not happy with me doing it, get another person but suitably qualified, better than me, to do the job, that is what is needed but then they brought Dr Swanepoel. And it is not his fault, it is not his mistake. Whoever did that I cannot vouch for, it just happened.
So I told Dr Swanepoel: "Look I don't think that you are at fault or whatever but it is unfair of the people in charge to expect of you to manage this facility in an effective way".
MR CHASKALSON: I'd just like to clarify something with you. You're talking about this conversation taking place somewhere around 1986.
DR GOOSEN: Yes.
MR CHASKALSON: At that stage, General Knobel was not the Surgeon-General, can you clarify his involvement in the project?
DR GOOSEN: Okay. General Knobel and I were acquainted before we started with the project. General Knobel was the Head of Department, he was Professor and Head of Department in the University of Pretoria. In fact we were neighbours, his facility and mine were just on the opposite sides of the parking lot. And I regarded him very highly as a person and as a scientific person etc. Now General Knobel then moved from that position to being in the Army and he became the 2I/C ..[indistinct], and it was known that he was to succeed General Niewoudt. From his position as scientifically based he was involved in the project from the early days, I can't remember exactly when but from early meetings he was present in the project.
In 1986 when it became known to me that the management was unhappy with my management and the sponsors as we called them, I've seen General Knobel and I've also seen General Niewoudt at that time and we discussed this change in management and what it implied. They couldn't satisfy me on any point as to exactly why precisely they want to remove me. They had some stories like: "We want to make you available to have more time to run the anti-fertility project" because I was specialising also in anti-fertility, that was my keen interest. And I said: "But I cannot be involved in running the anti-fertility project because Dr Schalk van Rensburg and Professor Borman is doing that and what will I be doing there"? And then they said: "You must do this and that" and on the other hand - and I'm going back a little bit now but this sets the scenes for a couple of years later, in '86 General Nieuwoudt said to me: "Listen Daan" and we had a discussion and I said to him: "General, if you and I don't agree on working together it does not matter if I am right or if you are right, if you don't agree with the way I do things I'll leave because you are the boss. If I cannot convince you of this then I leave", so he says: "No, man we like you, you're a good guy, we want you here but let's change this management thing, let's do it then finally the following way, we do it like we run a hospital, the academic hospitals. We'll have two persons in charge, the one is the Superintendent of the hospital", which in 99.999% of cases is a medical doctor and the other one is the Dean of the Medical Faculty which is 100% of the cases a medical doctor. And he said: "In this case we'll bring in Dr Swanepoel to assist you sort-of as the Superintendent side and he will run, as if indicated, the administrative side of it and you will be the Dean sort of, running overall the scientific side of it reporting then to us. You will be reporting to Wouter more and Dr Swanepoel reporting to the auditing side of it more". So I said: "Well, that sounds fine to me", so he said: "Okay, tomorrow afternoon 4 o'clock we'll have a meeting at my home in Muckleneuk".
We had the meeting and at the meeting he said: "As of today Daan Goosen, you are removed from your position, you have no contact or influence with anyone in RRL and you report directly to Dr Swanepoel". That is what happened in '86.
After I had discussions with them, I'm saying: "Please if you do this transfer management I'm happy, I will go if you're not happy with me but let's do it carefully" but that is what they did. '87, so that then developed RBO, the whole thing which we have explained. '87 I've gone back and I was then faced with this situation of now the standard of this research facility was seriously a concern for me and I wasn't supported by Dr Swanepoel in this and that was when I said: "Look, now I cannot go on, I have a problem, I have to sort this thing out". That was in 1988.
'87 I went back, the second half of '87 I went to Roodeplaat Teelondernemings. In the middle of 1988 these tests were done, the survey was done by the MRC and that was when I had an obstacle which I couldn't get over on my own.
MR CHASKALSON: And how did you try and sort out the problem?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman, I couldn't really sort out the problem, it was sorted out for me. In the end of it all, and all the facts are documented and available, in the end of it all I was isolated, victimised - I don't want to go into details, I think in the end I'm very relieved that I was discharged. Apart from financially I was very definitely ruined but in the end of it I was called in to the Military Intelligence Office and there was a person - now those times were very stressful for me, I can't remember his name exactly, there was a person a Colonel, I think it was a Colonel du Preen, and he told me: "Look, you have committed a breach of security, we have to throw you in jail or charge you with high treason", something like that ...[intervention]
MR CHASKALSON: Sorry, could you tell us what your breach of security was?
DR GOOSEN: The breach of security was I supposedly said something at the Congress in the Kruger National Park in October 1988, which was giving away some of the company's secrets. I don't know what it was and no-one every could produce to me exactly what I've said but apparently National Intelligence, and this was told to me by General Knobel, picked this up, not Military Intelligence but National Intelligence picked this up and said: "Look, we've got a problem with one of your guys, he's letting out secrets or something".
I've seen in a file on the table there in front of the Colonel sitting in front of me, a document which I read upside down: "Investigation into Security Breach by Dr Swanepoel and Charl Jackson. Dr Riana Borman confirmed that Dr Goosen had done the Security Breach" but what no-one till today can exactly tell me.
What I remember saying was that: "If you are not doing your research up to international standards you cannot have people believe that you are doing contract research for international companies, therefore it is important for us to do our research on international standards".
Anyway, I was then faced with this, that the - I had to go to jail, he directly told me: "We have to throw you in jail but we won't do it, you may go quietly". I spoke to some of my colleagues for some assistance and some of them said: "Look man you're facing a stacked deck, just get out, you will get harmed".
Okay, I certainly still insisted that I want to see someone, I want to see the Surgeon-General - at that time it was in 1988, end of '88, it was General Niel Knobel, because I had a lot of confidence in his integrity etc.
There was a final meeting arranged with the General in his office and at the meeting I was given an option of signing a document which kept me from being involved in any activity which was similar to the company's Roodeplaat Breeding Organisation and RRL Research Laboratories and any subsidiaries etc., etc., and divulge any information from the companies to anyone etc., that document is also available, for 10 years, sign. What did I get?, R60 000.
So I said at the time to - and present at the meeting was General Knobel, Dr Swanepoel, Dr Basson, Mr Spalmer and I think a security officer, but remember this is now a week or so after the guy from Military Intelligence tells me: "Look, you go or we put you in jail". So I signed but I said: "Look, please, I cannot survive economically with six kids, not having an opportunity to practise what I'm good at, I cannot survive economically, can you not pay me out my pension"? Well, Dr Basson said - he was asked a question and he said: "Ja, well, no, I don't think it will go through", they will have to get Cabinet approval etc., it will take too long but there is not really a possibility.
So we left and - okay, after the meeting, when the meeting dismissed, General Knobel asked to see me alone which I appreciated and in the meeting we had together alone I said thank you for the opportunity and he said he was very sorry, what happened to me? In fact he was visibly upset, of course I was also visibly upset I think but he was sorry what happened to me but it was out of his hands, he could do nothing about it, he's not even sure what is happening around him, his office may even be bugged, this is bad times.
So, I said: "Okay, don't worry I'm going. I won't cause any trouble, I'm going, I don't want to be, I know Paraoxin and all those things". But I said: "I want to tell you something, there's problems and serious problems in the companies, please you must have a look at it, it is not working, it is not productive, whatever is produced is not up to standard". This is verified, was verified by Dr Odendal's testimony the other day, when he said he put out products without fully testing them in animals. I mean, how can you do that and they were forced to do that.
So I said to General Knobel: "Please, promise me one thing, have a look at it". And I made one mistake, I said: "These scientists left there who knows what has to be done technically, is Dr van Rensburg". And he promised me yes, he would take the matter seriously and he will speak to the guys and he will look into it and thank you and then I left.
MR CHASKALSON: When did you next hear of RRL?
MR SWANEPOEL: Chairperson yes, maybe there's - sorry , I then went and bought a farm in the Northern Transvaal without money, borrowed the money. It was a beautiful place. I have enjoyed it tremendously. Me and my family stayed there, farmed and practised there for nine years and on the farm in the Eastern Transvaal rather, the other side of Tzaneen, I was visited by several people whilst establishing there, the de-briefing side of it I believe.
Mrs Rita Engelbrecht I think, she was an officer concerned with the, not an officer, a person, I don't think she was a military officer but she was involved with the security surrounding the projects, she visited me and discussed my situation, am I, I think assessing if I was a security risk or not. We had long discussions - I don't want to waste your time, I expressed my concern again about the security situation of the company, of what was going on there and not my own, fully she took cognisance of the fact.
I was later visited by General - and I'm also not sure again of his name, I remember I was fixing a pump when they called me in front of my neighbours and everyone and said: "General so and so is looking for you" and all the neighbours were looking at me: what are you doing with generals. What can I say, what am I doing with the Generals.
I spoke to him and it was also a sort of a de-briefing exercise and assuring me that they are looking into matters etc., and again I fully voiced my concerns to him. To both Rita and the General I expressed again my grave financial situation and that I am desperate in having to look after my family and I have no money, can't they help me and he said: "Look, I will speak to the "old boys network" and see if we can't help you" ...[intervention]
MR CHASKALSON: Sorry, which General was this?
DR GOOSEN: I can't exactly remember, under correction, Beukes.
MR CHASKALSON: Did anyone else approach you about what had happened to RRL possibly from within formal SADF structures?
DR GOOSEN: Yes, Chairperson, I had frequent contact and visits from the people, personnel, my friends, all of them. There is not really anyone of them who isn't my friend, during those periods, concerning if I'm alright.
There were rumours apparently and at one stage someone told me that I had cancer. And we did work on carcinogens, I knew a lot about carcinogens. There's certain substances in smoke which causes cancer and you can buy them all off the shelf and apply them to someone and he can get cancer. It's not proliferation, it's common knowledge.
So they enquired about my wellbeing etc., particularly during the time when the company started to move in privatisation and closing down etc., I had a lot more contact from concerned scientists and people: "What is happening, where are we going, what is wrong".
Roodeplaat Breeding Enterprises was closed down, summarily it was told to them that the company was making a loss. I believe they were running fully within their budget when they were closing down.
Mr Chairman, may I be allowed for one minute to explain my ruining Roodeplaat Breeding Enterprises?
MR CHASKALSON: Carry on.
DR GOOSEN: Roodeplaat Breeding Enterprises had the contracts with the Government, the Army, Escom and the Prisons Department. In 1988, around there, the Army said: "Okay, if you are producing so effectively dogs for us, can you not also train our dog handlers"? So Roodeplaat Breeding Enterprises also built a college to house trainees and train the dogs with their handlers. Now that meant that the present facility of the Army at Bourkes Luck needed to be closed down because it was redundant, because Roodeplaat Breeding Enterprises would take over the function, privatised.
It so happened that it was in '88 and 1989 elections were around the corner. I left in 1989 in January/February so in 1988 the elections were around the corner. Some of the personnel at Bourkes Luck wouldn't have wanted to move back to Pretoria so they went to their Member of Parliament, a National MP and they tell him look: "If you close down Bourkes Luck, we have won this constituency by 40 or 30 votes, whatever, the previous round of elections, so if you close Bourkes Luck we might lose this seat in Parliament".
And then the National Party Government decided they cannot close Bourkes Luck, they must keep it open to win a seat in the election. By doing so eventually the contract for training the Army's personnel was cancelled. This was told to me in the presence of Dr Swanepoel and Dr Basson by General Knobel in his office one morning.
So of course - but I, you've heard that I was the guilty party in losing the contracts. Anyway, in the closing of RBE there was again a lot of contact by the RBE people to me for guidance for their future, what should they do etc. In fact I was approached by one group of people with people in financing and they wanted to buy the facility and operate it privately, really privately and they wanted me to come back to the facility and run it for them.
At that stage I was phoned by people from RRL, the security persons and they threatened me and said: "Look, you will get hurt if you continue getting involved with that". I told them: "Get lost". I was warned in that time and in later years twice by friends of mine: "Please, look out, there is a contract out for you", no names. It's not really important but that's what happened, I mean they phoned me and said: "They want to kill you".
I was also phoned by friends who said: "Look, you mustn't underestimate the hatred Swanepoel has for you". Please it's not really relevant but that was the milieux I operated in. Then we get to the privatisation in '91/'92 of RRL and again as you've heard before, there was a lot of unhappiness going around, who gets the shares and who doesn't get the shares and what should become of the place. And again I was phoned by scientists and people and informed of what's happening and not happening but I know nothing because I was sitting out in the bushes minding my own business.
And then I was phoned one day from overseas and said look, - it was a reputable overseas pharmaceutical company who knew me and they wanted to buy it as a facility for themselves but they would be interested if I would managing it again, it I was interested in that option. I said: "Look, I don't know about this, I have no involvement anymore but, and I'm not really at free will to do it being bound by these documents I've signed".
And there were also then people unhappy about the privatisation, scientists and personnel from RBE and they phoned me and some of them threatened to see the Minister, see the press, see this and see that and I thought that would be very dangerous in those years when the negotiations were going, to make this thing known in a wrong way. I felt it my duty to inform authorities responsible, government authorities, the National Party was still in government and the Minister, I spoke to the Minister of Defence for four hours on the project ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: Who was this Minister?
DR GOOSEN: The Minister was at that stage Roelf Meyer. I spoke to him for four hours and he confirmed a few things to me Chairman. He knew Dr Wouter Basson and surely it was Dr Wouter and he knew about the project and he knew about the sensitivities and he made one comment to me, he said but it is difficult for them to control Dr Basson, I said: "Ja, I can imagine, it was also difficult for Dr Basson to control me apparently". That was what Dr Swanepoel told me.
But anyway, we resolved that who should we ask, the Minister of Defence and I, who should we ask to look into this matter and we agreed that we can approach General Knobel being a man of integrity, being involved in it anyway, being a person I trusted fully, to voice our concerns and approaches.
In fact, what I told the Minister at that stage is, if this thing is played right, the Government can sell this facility to private enterprise and get back 10 - 12 million into the gate of taxpayers money, at least get 10 - 12 million back. That is a possibility and I can facilitate in this.
CHAIRPERSON: Dr Goosen, I just want to make sure that I got you correctly. Did you say that you spoke to Roelf Meyer in 1992? Was it 1992 or ...?
DR GOOSEN: Chairperson, that was round about the times of Boipatong. I believe it was early in 1992. That was the time period Mr Meyer was Minister of Defence, it wasn't very long.
He phoned or contact, I don't know, phoned or contact but he was in contact with General Knobel and General Knobel contacted me telephonically and we had a nice discussion on the phone but of course you cannot speak on the phone of serious matters but I outlined to him the possibility that I might assist him in resolving this problem, in getting money back for the government and advertising this company, get it off their list of concerns, being very sensitive in the negotiations at that stage.
General Knobel, - but again I voiced also the concerns that there were very unhappy people at that stage running around and who may cause a security breach. I also informed them about that. He said he would go into the matter and come back to me and he never came back to me. So it went by, no problem. What happened is as you know of course.
CHAIRPERSON: Dr Randera?
DR RANDERA: Dr Goosen, just clarify again for us, you leave the company, you buy a farm, yes, there is some contact inbetween so you've got nothing to do with the company as I understand it, from 1989 onwards. But in 1992 you still go back, first of all get an appointment with the Minister, so did you know the Minister yourself to be able to get that sort of contact with him?
DR GOOSEN: Yes, Mr Chairman.
DR RANDERA: And how do you come back into the picture?
DR GOOSEN: As I explained Mr Chairman, I ...[intervention]
DR RANDERA: It's in your interest again. I know you were still talking to members of the scientific community but you are now talking about wanting to buy this ...[intervention]
DR GOOSEN: Ja, two reasons. I was concerned about the security situation of the company and of my friends still present in the company. And you must also know that in - when we started these companies in the early '80's, Chemical Biological Warfare wasn't outlawed okay. It was only outlawed in the early 1990's, '92 or '93 these things were being outlawed.
Which - and I still feel up till today, a responsibility for the scientists I got involved into the company. They were people, good people and I felt a responsibility toward them. And I felt that if this thing is busting open or whatever, it could seriously affect their careers. So, that was the one thing. I was concerned then to the knowledge that came to me where I was sitting in the bush from these people. I was concerned about the security of the company.
Secondly, I was phoned from overseas, out of the blue, and say: "Look, we are interested. We understand Roodeplaat Enterprises might be for sale in 1992. We are interested in buying it. We will be interested in buying it if you are Managing Director or not Managing Director but managing in it again. And then I have these two reasons to say: "But gee, it might be an opportunity".
Look, in 1992 it was in the height of El Nino, we had no rain, I had no crops, I had no money, nothing. So then I said: but you're out of it, how do you get back? How do you in a positive way? I don't want to do anyone any harm or whatever but if this thing is for sale, why can't I be involved in it. And I knew Roelf Meyer, so I talked to him.
And then we said, okay, Niel Knobel is the man in charge, speak to him and I spoke to them and then nothing happened so I was finished, I wasn't involved any further then. ...(tape ends)
DR GOOSEN: What happened really is also known but that I found out later, the next contact which I had.
MR CHASKALSON: Would you tell us about that?
DR GOOSEN: The next contact which I had then with the company was in 1994, when again I was phoned one day by an advocate, no I've seen in the newspaper the day first, I opened this newspaper in 1994, December, round about there and in this newspaper there was an admittance by the government that they were involved in clandestine companies running, doing Biological Chemical Warfare, defensive.
So I said to my wife: "Interesting, this is the biggest secret of the government but here it's coming out". The next day the phone rang and an advocate something spoke to me and said: "Are you Dr Goosen"? and I said: "Yes". He said: "Are you the founder member of that company"? I said: "What", I said: "Ja". "Were you the Managing Director and the founder of the company", I said: "Yes". He said: "I want to speak to you", I said: "Wait, who are you"? He said: "No, I can't tell you". I said: "Wait" and what did I do, I phoned General Knobel and I said: "General, this is what happened, what's up"? So he said: "Daan, great stuff, you can relax now. This thing is out in the open now. We have told, President Mandela had a brief input so you guys can now relax, everything is in the open, we have told him everything". I said: "Thank God, I'm happy for that, at last".
And I said: "This guy, what now about this guy, I don't know what is his angle is"? So he(?) said: "Okay, I'll speak to him and find out what is going on and get back to the General"
CHAIRPERSON: Can I just come in here? Mr Chaskalson, do you have an idea how much longer you want to be with this witness, taking into account cross-examination, taking into account two other witness whom we want to hear today?
MR CHASKALSON: I do not expect to be much longer.
CHAIRPERSON: That doesn't tell me anything Mr Chaskalson.
MR CHASKALSON: 20 minutes.
CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Can I ask you Dr Goosen, do you know who this advocate was?
DR GOOSEN: This advocate was from the Office of le Roux, ...[indistinct] Cilliers and they were representing an employee of the company who was building a case against the company for doing him in on some money. They presented us then with a lot of documentation, which is available, which can be verified and which is authentic, of the dissolving of the company. In fact it boiled down to the following, I'll be very brief and keep it very simple because that's what happened.
The Defence Force, they established these facilities with tax payers money, 100%. In the region, the initial costs were six and a half million rands for the building, equipped and up and running for nearly 30 million, run from '83 to '92 at more or less the cost of seven million to ten million a year, all government's money. The income from projects in this company never exceeded 10% of the running cost. It was never really an effort to really get private contracts which was not surprising.
In the end the company was sold to a few employees for the amount of R100 000. Initially Dr Swanepoel - and I see you've got it in some of these documents, Dr Swanepoel's share would have been 75% and the personnel would have been 25%. Due to the interference of some of the personnel his shares were brought down to 50%. He said yesterday he received four and a half million rands for his 50% share, which cost him fifty thousand.
There was also another company in the end, by the liquidation of this company which received another four and half thousand, Contra Cedar Holdings ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: Four and a half million.
DR GOOSEN: Four and a half million. So Swanepoel Trust received four and a half million, Contra Cedar Holdings received four and a half million, the owners, shareholders or whatever, Contra Cedar Holding, Swanepoel again. So in the end he received close to nine million rands, okay? Close to nine million rands.
Now, if he had his 75% share he would have got another four and a half million rands. Now, Mr Chairman, I'm just interested, is that not reason enough to be sour also? Anyway, this astounded me, that tax payers money could have been given to people and being sold off.
Now in the end when they liquidated it, they sold the facility back to the government, back to the government Chairman, for another eight or twelve million rand, I'm not sure what that figure is. It is available, you can look in the government's records, and they shared the money between nine of them. This to me was really astounding. I was shocked.
MR CHASKALSON: Dr Goosen, sorry to interrupt you, I'm just a little bit pressed for time, I'd like to move on. Do you know General Neethling?
DR GOOSEN: Yes.
MR CHASKALSON: Can you tell us how you know the General?
DR GOOSEN: The General and I are married family. He is married to the sister of my first wife which was my first late wife's mother and we were friends.
MR CHASKALSON: Did the General ever visit RRL?
DR GOOSEN: We are still friends, sorry. Yes, the General visited RRL. He visited RRL on two occasions, the first one was in connection with the testing of some gases which we wanted to be used in apparently riot control, on the baboons, someone referred to it previously.
The second time he visited as far as I know, to the, as a guest of Roodeplaat Breeding Enterprises inspecting or visiting the facilities and looking at what we're doing as we were clients then. In the end RBE, Roodeplaat Breeding Enterprises was transferred to the police which was under his, I think, jurisdiction. He can vouch for that. Which I think was very good. It is still being utilised very good for the government at the moment.
MR CHASKALSON: Did the General have any other involvement with the programme or activities that took place at Roodeplaat?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman, no not really in my period. I know Dr Wouter Basson initially wasn't very well acquainted with General Neethling and we discussed the General's role in the project in being, having to be responsible if some of the products needed to be forensically tested at the end of the line, the General's department would be involved. But that's bona fides.
MR CHASKALSON: Earlier on you talked about a narrow line between defensive and offensive and so on projects. I accept your argument but I would like to ask you about intent and what your understanding of the intent of the programme was. Could you comment on that?
DR GOOSEN: Yes. Chairman, as I've said before we were not really unclear about the intent of the programme. We had a few concerns about it and that was the need to know principle, that if targets were identified - and we received descriptions of the scenario which would be applicable to the target, for instance the snake venom. Dr Basson would tell us: "Look, we've got access to this guy, we've infiltrated somewhere, we can get access to him, close access, we can hold him down, we can inject him and then we can kill a snake next to him and it would be made to look to everyone else he was bitten by a snake. So we were definitely presented with that type of scenario and develop and produce these tricks to apply to the scenario. We were very concerned about, that this should be used for legitimate opponents or the enemy - which we won't waste time on, I think we know, we understand who was the enemy at the stage, the ANC etc. We had long discussions on, with Dr Basson on Nelson Mandela, Dr Mandela, Oliver Tambo, all these guys. Die ...[indistinct] hierarchy, those were potential targets and we should develop these non-traceable stuff for them ja.
MR CHASKALSON: Now you are listing here individuals who opposed the government of the time, you are not talking about an attack on a military force which would be in some form of self defence or to prevent an initial attack, we're talking innocent people Am I correct in understanding that this is what you're saying? ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: In one case may we note, he was talking about a prisoner who was incarcerated in jail if we are talking about Mandela. I don't know how much of an enemy he was in prison.
DR GOOSEN: Ja. Mr Chairman, to answer your question yes, that is true. Those people were considered the enemy by us. We cannot deny that, that is true. To come back to President Mandela. It is true, I personally had discussion with Dr Basson about, in the general lines, if one had to release him it would have been good if he had a disease which you know wouldn't, so that he couldn't be too long a problem.
We spoke about carcinogens at the stage and again as I said, carcinogens are reasonably available. There was no definite plan formulated in my presence that I know of. This was general sort of discussions on what the possibilities will be. No definite plan was formulated as far as I know.
MR CHASKALSON: Could you tell us what a carcinogen is in layman's terms?
DR GOOSEN: Carcinogen is a chemical substance or any substance for that matter which will precipitate and cause cancer induce, that is can induce cancer.
MR CHASKALSON: So, it would be a clandestine way of ultimately causing the death of somebody?
DR GOOSEN: That can be correct, ja.
MR CHASKALSON: During your discussions with General Knobel in which you spoke about concerns of the programme, did you ever specifically discuss any of the substances which we have heard could have been used for or against individuals?
DR GOOSEN: Initially when I was getting the scientific side running at RRL, we had meetings with the "borge" which consisted of two parts, one was the reporting on techinical aspects and the other one on financial. First the financial one and then the auditors would leave and then we would discuss the projects.
And these types of projects were discussed at one or two meetings because these meetings fell then in this use. And that was a centre of control, where we all could sit down with the people we respected, like the General, that he would be in control of the end use of these products.
MR CHASKALSON: What happened after those meetings fell into disuse, how did you used to report and how were your potential concerns about the use of these projects taken care of?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman, that was after the first 18 months when I was removed. That was then the stages where it happened, just before the period where I was sort of not reporting anymore.
What happened is, in 1985 Wouter, Dr Wouter Basson attended an officers course for one years, the highest course to be able to become a General I understand and being on that course he was not available to the project for one year in '85.
That created a bit of a void because Dr Basson was the link between me as Managing Director and the money and everything that was going on. And that was part of what developed into the situation, that we had some discussions on management and the problems in management and how this should have been managed, this company in '86 but I was fired before we could resolve anything.
MR CHASKALSON: Could you indicate for us what you view as scientific achievements that were made by RRL?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman, the scientific achievements were made in the field of Chemical Biological Warfare and please, this is not proliferation, this is history. We supplied a lot of crude products which could have been used, we could have supplied and developed a lot of crude products which could have been used as this dirty tricks stuff, James Bond stuff.
We advanced far on the development of an anti-fertility vaccine but it was never really produced and I can say this, I was involved on the hard sides up to 1989. The third side of developing a biotechnological component, the genetic engineering side, no real biological weapons were coming from that. That unit, that unit has been transferred by Dr Mike Odendal refusing shares in the company. He transferred the unit to a non-war situation where it is developing and producing for the country for the first time recombinant(?) vaccines for use as good products. And again, the unit is still involved in producing Botulinum Toxin to very sophisticated levels. And it's a legitimate use, it is the thickness of leaf away from a weapon and not a weapon and the control is also not easy.
MR CHASKALSON: Just to clarify on that. Earlier on you told us that between seven and ten million rand was used for operating costs at RRL for a period of approximately nine years. You discussed a six and a half million amount which was used for the building of the facility and a thirty million amount which was for the upgrading of the facility. If we take the low side of the seven to ten million, 7 9's are 63 plus 30, we're at 93, we are talking approximately something like a hundred million rand which was spent. And given what you have just said to us we don't have any scientific achievement, we have crude dirty tricks and we have another genetic section which you said has subsequently been taken out of RRL and made a success elsewhere. Would that be an unfair representation?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman, that would be the bottom line, 100% correct, completely under production for what was spent in the project, completely. But of course it can't be evaluated by a Managing Director who doesn't know about science.
MR CHASKALSON: Can I quickly refer you to TRC 52, it's list that has come to be known as a "verkope" list. I understand this is a 1989 list and that you were not in the loop at this stage. I just want to confirm the type of substances that we are talking about, that you had informed General Knobel of at an earlier stage. Are you telling us that at some or other stage you informed the General about individual murder weapons, for instance poison in a liquid or poison in chocolates or something of that effect?
DR GOOSEN: Mr Chairman yes, we might have discussed it. I cannot say which one of these products or whatever. What I remember we did discuss was the following: We did discuss targeting individuals and we did discuss the fact that I was concerned that the individuals targeted should be legitimate targets seeing that the scientist, myself and the scientists were not told who the targets were.
So we had no option of thinking for ourselves, it was a prisoner or not or whatever and this was apparently to safeguard us. So the fact the matter was yes, if we discussed the targets it must have been going without saying that we did discuss the chemical methods of taking them out, and it was in his presence.
MR CHASKALSON: Thank you Dr Goosen, I have no further questions.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr Chaskalson. Cross-examination, Mr Cilliers, are you going to start?
MR CILLIERS: Mr Chairman, I've made a request to Mr Vally and it's something he had to discuss with you. We are in the situation, General Neethling came this morning, he is available, he's been available since nine.
His flight back, because of special flight arrangements which have been made for him, he is to leave a four because he has to be at the airport at a quarter to five and I've requested Mr Vally whether we can't continue with General Neethling so that we can ensure that he will be finished by four otherwise there won't be an opportunity to put questions to him. So I want to ask you to let Dr Goosen stand down so that we can hear Neethling's evidence.
MR POLSEN: Sorry, may I ask what does my learned friend envisage because I have a difficulty, I have to leave undoubtedly tonight at seven o'clock. Will we finish with Dr Goosen today? Has he got long cross-examination? What is his ...[intervention]
MR CILLIERS: I am convinced that we can do Dr Goosen and Dr Neethling today, we can finish them today. Like during the previous occasions if we can sit later than 4 o'clock. The only reason why I'm putting the request is Dr Goosen is still available after four and General Neethling not. I foresee that we will easily finish also with Goosen and Neethling today.
MR POLSEN: Provided we don't start at 4 o'clock and end at a quarter to seven because I have to leave early, there's no way that I will be able to stay.
CHAIRPERSON: I don't enjoy sitting late myself Mr Polsen but sometimes it happens. But you know, we will try and everybody here is listening. Mr Chaskalson or Mr Vally, do you have any...?
MR CHASKALSON: I don't have any major objection to this. We will abide with whatever your ruling is though. The only other point that we would like to just note is that at some stage today we will need to squeeze in the remains of a legal argument. Now may be an appropriate stage before lunch, alternatively we would be ready to begin with the General now. I don't ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: No, no, Mr Chaskalson, you possibly want to arrange during lunch with your learned friends as to when you think that legal things must come. We have taken as much evidence as we want to take on the non-contentious issues. If we can then stand down the present witness subject to his arrangements.
And may I just emphasize that all the parties must time themselves. We have got, as I understand, two witnesses who we want to take. I would say there are two more witnesses who I would prefer we should take today rather than one because I do not know what tomorrow brings. And therefore we should pace ourselves such that by 6 o'clock we have done everything that we need to do and that includes calling two more witnesses and cross-examining them.
WITNESS STANDS DOWN
CHAIRPERSON: Will you call your next witness Mr Chaskalson?
MR CHASKALSON: The Commission calls General Lothar Neethling and Mr Vally will take over the examination.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally are you ready?
Mr Neethling welcome to these proceedings. Before you testify I will ask Advocate Potgieter to swear you in.
LOTHAR NEETHLING: (Duly sworn in, states):
CHAIRPERSON: May I just mention it for the record again General Neethling that you are quite welcome to testify and express yourself in the language you are best comfortable with.
GEN NEETHLING: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: If you would like to follow the testimony and you are acquainted with Afrikaans should General Neethling decide to testify in Afrikaans, we have facilities which have simultaneous translations. Mr Vally?
MR VALLY: Thank you, Mr Chair. Gen Neethling, can you briefly tell us what are your qualifications?
GEN NEETHLING: Mr Chairman, I am a scientist. I have two doctorate degrees in chemistry and related physiological biological chemistry and I regard myself as a person with a very wide range of interests regarding chemistry and electrical chemistry.
MR VALLY: This is precisely the area of involvement of Delta G and to an extent RRL, Roodeplaat Research Laboratories. Firstly I'd like to know if you had any contact with anyone at RRL?
GEN NEETHLING: Yes, let's start with RRL. RRL, I heard Dr Goosen I visited them twice, I visited them three times, and it was about the fact that I was the Head of the South African Police Dog School. This Police Dog School had a very big problem and they had one big problem that was to trace explosives.
MR VALLY: Gen Neethling, I don't want to know about RTO, Roodepoort Teel Ondernemings, I want to know specifically about the biological facility RRL.
GEN NEETHLING: I visited RRL once. It was one of the three visits I have mentioned. The other visits were to the dog unit. The only visit I paid to the laboratory described by Dr Goosen was in 1993. I was requested to investigate - I was retired at that stage, I'm still a consultant, I do it on a consulting basis and there was the case of a person who was injected with a specific substance in a town in Northern Transvaal with very detrimental consequences. The court case resulted and they said he was injected with the wrong material which led to impotence. This led to the situation that that sample I received, I had to investigate that and I had to present a report on that. I have the report here and all the details. I had a discussion with two of the scientists there, there's two Veterinary Surgeons who were involved in analysing that. I don't know how they did they. I obtained the result, I was satisfied and the defence was satisfied.
MR VALLY: We will come back to RRL in a while, but just on that issue who were you consultant to, was it a private person or Government.
GEN NEETHLING: In 1993 I was an independent entity. I joined the Police - first let me start from the beginning. I had a bursary from Agricultural Services. I want to the USA in 1959, and I obtained my Doctorate there. I came back and worked for the Department of Agricultural Technical Services till 1970. I was stationed at two places, at Roodeplaat Agricultural Institute, I doesn't have anything to do with the other Roodeplaat, that was my first station and I did many experiments there regarding grapes. Afterwards I went to Onderstepoort where I became the head of the X-ray section because my background in the USA entailed the use of radio-active materials in the field of agricultural research, and this involved the use of isotopes in agricultural research. I became involved in a big project where certain analysis had to be done where large pieces of analysis were made regarding cenellium and other substances leading to those diseases which caused diseases in agriculture and losses were made during certain cycles and caused great problems. Then I went to the South African Police. On the 15th of January 1971 I started there and I was asked to establish a Forensic Laboratory and that activity suited my temperament very well. I'm not a person who likes routine because I like to be involved in a lot of things at the same time and the forensic science was a very attractive option because I ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: I'm sorry, we have been told by your counsel that you want to catch a plane. I just want to know your professional history from this period to this period I was a Constable or a Lieutenant, from this to this period I was in this rank or that Department, that's all I want to know.
GEN NEETHLING: In 1971 I joined the South African Police as a full Colonel. I was promoted in '79 to Brigadier. I was promoted - I'm sorry, in '74 I was promoted to Brigadier Assistant Commissioner and in 1976 a full Brigadier and 1979 I was promoted to a Major-General, and 1985 to a Lieutenant-General. In other words, I was part of the general staff of the Police from 1979 until I retired in 1992. There was nobody longer before or after me and I think I can speak on behalf of the South African Police. Is that what you wanted? After August 1992 I retired. The post which I occupied at that stage was the post I occupied since '85, it was - I was overhead responsible for a whole range of departments. I was responsible for information systems, for communication, the dog school, the criminal record system and the forensic department. I handed over command of the forensic laboratory unofficially in 1985 when I Lieutenant-Colonel, and 1989 from moving from one building to the other, I handed over to the new Commanding Officer, that was Brigadier Heyn Strauss, and he also retired - he left the service a few years later and he joined SASOL. And in the meantime two other Commanding Officers were appointed. Since 1985 I was not involved in the daily activity of the laboratory. I was responsible for those five departments and I was also responsible for other loose kind of jobs. This meant that I was overhead responsible for a budget of more than R1 billion. It increased during that time because, as you know, computers and things are very expensive, and we were at all times involved in eradicating a big backlog regarding information systems, especially with the criminal record system. That was my career.
An unfortunate incident took place in 1989, the end of 1989, certain information was made available regarding ...(inaudible) and there was an appeal after a court case in 1994 where the allegation was made that I was responsible for the provision of poison to Dirk Coetzee, and at that stage I categorically denied that. I did not do that. My laboratory, while I was there, did not provide poison to anybody at any stage. We did our very best to develop an analytical capability which would enable us to solve any analytical problem which would develop in solving crime. That was my main purpose with the establishment of the laboratory, which was very successful and is becoming even more and more successful using new techniques like DNA.
I'm very sorry that I had to read all these lies in the newspapers and this has ruined my career. The Police had to make a plan and this post of the Head of Criminology in 1985 - they described it in the same way as what they did when they had to get somebody out of the system, they changed the job description and I landed up being an advisor for the South African Police, especially the Commissioner. My whole career in the Police was geared at the establishment of the laboratory.
MR VALLY: Sorry, Gen Neethling, did you wish to read a statement to the Commission before I started questioning you?
GEN NEETHLING: I have no statement in front of me.
MR VALLY: Okay, sorry, I do have your Police career right now. I need to ask you some questions.
GEN NEETHLING: Please do.
MR VALLY: Thank you.
MR VALLY: Firstly, when you were in charge of the Police laboratories, do you recall the Thallium poisoning case of Simpiwe Mtimkhulu?
GEN NEETHLING: I was notified about that, or I became involved in that through the Deputy Attorney-General, I don't know which of the two posts of the Eastern Cape. He contacted me at a stage and he said such a case did occur there.
This was mentioned also to the laboratory and said an analysis had to be done on a urine sample from a certain person. This sample was flown in, the dossier is available on the, that was in December, I don't know which year, it was early in the 1980's. The person who picked that up, it was sent by courier, he brought the sample to the laboratory. I wasn't present there, It was December, I was on two weeks holiday, that was the only time I could spend with my family. It was damaged there, and when they opened it there was no sample. Everything was dissolved in the cottonwool or the paper.
MR VALLY: The identification of a poison with which Mr Simpiwe Mtimkhulu was poisoned was done by Professor Frances Ames from the University of Cape Town, is that correct?
GEN NEETHLING: That is correct, yes. I have spoken to her on the telephone.
MR VALLY: And you specifically requested her to send you samples, was it tissue samples, hair samples?
GEN NEETHLING: No, I asked for hair samples and for urine samples, and I only received a urine sample. The hair sample, that was the only case where we had an example of possible Thallium poisoning, and there were certain characteristic strains in the hair of a poisoned person which is easily identifiable according to the literature, but there was no sample which we could use for that. The analysis which Dr Ames did was done in England, and there was no question that I would question or query these findings.
MR VALLY: So the sample that was sent at your request to the Police Forensic Laboratories, either was damaged or didn't arrive. Your Police Forensic Laboratories where you were in charge of them didn't give any response to your perception of what the poisoning was.
GEN NEETHLING: There was no way in which we could determine what the possible toxin could be, and there was not further way how we could obtain another sample, because, after enquiries, they said there was not person available from whom they could obtain the sample, the person had disappeared, so there was no possibility to get another sample.
MR VALLY: We do know now what happened to Mr Mtimkhulu, are you aware of what happened to Mr Mtimkhulu?
GEN NEETHLING: I read during the court cases that he in one or other way was abducted and that he had disappeared, but how, I don't know.
MR VALLY: Well, let's leave, let's be specific, that he was in fact kidnapped and murdered by then members of the South African Police. Are you aware of that, that there's an amnesty application pursuant to this kidnapping and murder?
GEN NEETHLING: I do not know who the people are who were involved. I read that he had been abducted, but I don't know about that, but I know that he had been abducted by the Security Police in one or other way and was killed then. I don't know how and I don't know who were involved regarding that specific action.
MR VALLY: Are you aware that a General is claiming amnesty for his abduction and murder, a General of the Police Force, an ex General of the Police Force?
GEN NEETHLING: No, can you mention his name?
MR VALLY: I think it had come out in public hearings already, Mr Chair?
CHAIRPERSON: Right, yes.
GEN NEETHLING: It had to be the previous head of the Security Branch at Port Elizabeth. Which year was that, I don't know who was there. I had nothing to do with the Security Police's activities.
MR VALLY: My question is this, you being the upper echelons of the Police, and you joined as a Colonel in 1971, by '74 you became a Brigadier, in a space of three years you became a Brigadier, surely you'd be discussing those issues at that level?
GEN NEETHLING: No, not at all. At all meetings of Generals, no operational action with regard to people who had disappeared or were possibly hurt, not even the Biko case was ever discussed. It did not form part of the general function of the staff of the Generals. It was part of the Security Police.
MR VALLY: Are you aware that there was an action pending by Mr Mtimkhulu against the South African Police?
GEN NEETHLING: It was reported as such in the newspapers, yes. I think that was the reason why the Attorney-General took action if I remember correctly. I think we're now talking about 20 years ago, approximately 18 years, ago, I'm not sure. When was this incident?
MR VALLY: It was in the early 80's. Let's go on. There was evidence given here by Dr Jan Lourens that at the time he was Managing Director of Systems Research and Development, he was approached by you to accommodate a man by the name of Bart Hetima at his company. Do you know about Hetima?
GEN NEETHLING: I think it's just reversed. I introduced Bart Hetima to them. I met him in 1977/78 in Eastern Cape. He was the man who at that stage was the only man who had knowledge of the packaging of aerosols. He had a company in which he was the sole shareholder where he made aerosol cans, and at that stage we wanted to have our CS teargas packed in aerosol cans because that was a very handy way of using it. The Americans had already started using it in the late 60's and we started with tests in Komga and thereafter in Middelburg in the Cape, where he had his premises. He assisted us with the formulation of CS cans, and this became general equipment in 1982, and '83/'83 I met Lourens for the first time in '84/'85. Then the abilities of Bart Hetima came to the attention of Dr Wouter Basson, because he met him while he was with me while we were doing the testing for the CS gas formulation. Thereafter at one or other stage he worked for one of the companies of Dr Basson. Which one it was exactly I do not know. So, Dr Lourens, I don't think he's correct, he's not a doctor, he's Mr Jan Lourens. He has a degree in Engineering from the University of Pretoria. Is this another Dr Lourens.
GEN NEETHLING: He is a Dr Lourens, your attorney would tell you, he was present when he gave evidence. He advised us that you brought Bart Hetima to them and asked him to employ Mr Bart Hetima as SRD, Systems Research and Development.
GEN NEETHLING: That is not true, Dr Basson did that. I did not even know of the existence of SRD. The existence of SRD was made known to me by Dr Basson, and this was after we tried to get the capabilities similar to the ability to get the authorization and control, commander control post, and to have that established. It enables four Commanding Officers, two for example in whatever trouble may occur, for which the Task Force is used of the South African Police to be able to execute that function, and to be able to issue the different commands in the air without being intercommunication between the four teams. And there a Mr Jan Lourens received the contract which went out on tender to build that facility for the South African Police. That was the first time that I became involved with him, when he provided us with that electronic facility. It took approximately 1½ years before we got hold of that piece of instrumentation. In that ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: What year was that, please?
GEN NEETHLING: I can go back in my documentation, unfortunately I did not bring it with because I did not think it was important, but this was in the mid 80's, approximately '85/'86.
MR VALLY: Are you saying that is the first time you met Dr Jan Lourens?
GEN NEETHLING: That is the first time that I met Mr Jan Lourens. If he received his Doctorate degree in the meantime, then he must have obtained it during the time that he was busy with his academic studies. I have no knowledge of the fact that he had a doctorate degree. I won't take it away from him either if he has one.
MR VALLY: He does have one, and it's a PHD.
GEN NEETHLING: I'm glad to hear that, but I would like to know when he got it because I haven't seen him for quite some time.
MR VALLY: Fine, let's go on. Do you deny then that you brought him, Mr Bart Hetima, to Mr Jan Lourens where Mr Hetima was working at your request regarding the putting of, as you say, CS gas into aerosol cans?
GEN NEETHLING: Absolutely, I'm saying that the man who offered Bart Hetima employment for the ability that he had in the manufacturing of aerosol cans, was Dr Basson, Wouter Basson, and whether it was in my presence or not, he said to Jan Lourens here is a man whose expertise you can use, see what you can do with him, because I had nothing to do with Protechnic, nor with Technotec or whatever other companies existed. While we are on that point ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: Can I just, before you go into that, can I just get some clarity. You say Dr Wouter Basson asked Dr Jan Lourens to employ Mr Bart Hetima, it may or may not have been in your presence.
GEN NEETHLING: That's correct. That's exactly what I'm saying.
MR VALLY: When you say it may or may not have been in your presence, is it because you had regular contact with Dr Wouter Basson?
GEN NEETHLING: I had regular contact with Dr Wouter Basson from the end of 1983 onwards.
MR VALLY: Can you tell us what this contact was in connection with?
GEN NEETHLING: Yes, I can tell you that it was just after General Johan Coetzee took over as Commissioner of the South African Police in '83, the end of that year, August of September, I cannot recall, I received a call from his Staff Officer to tell me that I had to come and see him. It was an afternoon. I went there to his office and found in his office, Dr Nico Nieuwoudt, Minister Louis la Grange, as well as Commissioner Johan Coetzee. I was then asked ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: Sorry, Dr Nieuwoudt was the Surgeon-General at the time?
GEN NEETHLING: That's correct, yes. General Nico Nieuwoudt. I was then asked to assist, if we could, in providing Dr Basson who had a firm with the name of Delta G, with substances which we could possibly use for the combating of unrest and crowd control with regards to the unrest that was prevailing in the country at that stage, and the philosophy which was already known to me, was that under certain circumstances one could provide or use sleeping drugs which could possibly decrease the anger of the crowds so that the principle of minimum violence could be used maximally. Minister le Grange, and I'm saying this - I'm now talking about people who have already died, and I'm very sorry for that, Minister le Grange and General Nieuwoudt I think were two wonderful people who gave me the impression that under no circumstances would they associate themselves with violence and we tried to do everything in our ability, and in the South African Police to do that as well, and I can prove this with numerous examples. We had conferences, symposiums and travelled throughout the world and attended these in an attempt to develop techniques which would be more acceptable to the South African Police that a bullet from a gun, and we succeeded in doing this. And in creating a series of products with regard to the application of teargas, water canons, sneezing machines, teargas from grenades, which was mor effective that the old grenades, and at the same time, we always tried to get a better teargas, and there was not a single one that was prescribed to us, and this a gas by the name of CR. That day I was told that the ability that was developed, it was in the process of being developed, would be able to synthesise both the CR and CS gas.
It is so that I was then informed and that Dr Basson showed me plans of a laboratory. He also asked me some questions with regard to improvements which could have been made. I gave him my input in that regard, and I was told that the capability would exist to make CR and CS. That was the first thing.
The second thing was to develop a possible smoke which would be able to influence the state of mind of the crowds, and three substances were listed which they knew they could obtain from me because it was publicly known that the drugs that we confiscated in the course of normal criminal procedure all ended up at the criminal forensic laboratory after the cases has been completed, because we - after we had heard that people were pushing it back onto the street again after the court cases had been finished, then one has to go after the same things twice, and we then said that we would store in centrally, which we did and of those tablets on three occasions methaqualone tablets were given to Dr Basson so that he could extract the active ingredient, mandrax, and use it for further synthesis to obtain substances which would be physiologically active. In other words, we were looking for sleeping drugs, that was the one component, namely methaqualone, the second component was lysergic acid ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: Sorry, is that LSD?
GEN NEETHLING: Yes, that's the active ingredient in LSD. It comes from a whole conglomeration of tablets that was available. They are light-sensitive and there was nothing more that approximately 50mg of active ingredient present in those tablets because one tablet usually is 50 micrograms. This was the sum total. And the third possible category was the changing dagga into powder form. This could have been possibly changed into a gas formulation so that we could throw it into the air and instead of throwing stones and using vehicles for arson, that you did not want to do this anymore and you then become more peaceful. And for that a conscript was used who worked with me for approximately nine months. There were many conscripts who came to me as scientists ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: Sorry, would you give us his name please?
GEN NEETHLING: His name was Sotas, Dr Sotas. He came to me and we gave him the capability to take fresh dagga plants and to extract them and take the dagga oil out of it, and with that he went forth in the hope that they could make grenades or products which could be broken down into powder. The same principle therefore as the previous two. That was a once off occasion, that of Dr Sotas.
The methaqualone mandrax, I think it was three times that this happened, each time this was done on request. The procedure was as follows, the Surgeon-General, Dr Nieuwoudt would phone me and asked whether I could help Wouter. Wouter would come to me, then Wouter would come and he'd say, I want so many mandrax tablets, and I'd say how many, 15 0000 or 10 000, whatever I had at stage, he would take it and leave, and I knew that they were trying to make derivatives and also to put this into the grenades. This was a project that I was kept informed of, but grenades were never produced, which, let us say, were used operationally. It was always just on an experimental or testing basis.
The only grenades which were produced a bit later, on an operational basis, were those the teargas CR. These tear-gases, we tried to make in the late 70's without any awareness from my side that there would be possible interest from the Defence Force. We asked that Sasol would, with its laboratory Sentrachem would make us a few kilograms of the substance, and they gave me 10 kilograms of wastage materials, because they had problems in manufacturing this, the people who were working with this had to wear wetsuits, etc to protect themselves, but we started using this, or tested this in aerosol cans and ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: Sorry, Gen Neethling, let's come back to the CR gas in a short while.
GEN NEETHLING: Yes, okay.
MR VALLY: We're still at the point where you said that drugs which were confiscated were sent to the Police laboratories under your control and ...(intervention)
GEN NEETHLING: Under the control of the laboratory, yes.
MR VALLY: Which you were the head of at the time?
GEN NEETHLING: That's correct.
MR VALLY: And you were instructed or requested by the then Minister, Mr Louis le Grange, Minister of Law and Order or Police at the time, with the Surgeon-General, Dr Nieuwoudt, present as well as the them Commissioner of Police, Mr Coetzee?
GEN NEETHLING: That's correct.
MR VALLY: To assist Dr Basson?
GEN NEETHLING: Yes, that's correct.
MR VALLY: And to provide him with whatever he needed?
GEN NEETHLING: To give him the specific methaqualone, ...(indistinct) and LSD, just those three things, nothing more, nothing less. There could have been many other things, he could have asked for Dystopian, which we literally had tons of, all these valiums, libriums, etc that are abused. They didn't want that, all they were interested in were these three things.
MR VALLY: So in lay person's terms, Mr la Grange, in the presence of the Commissioner, Mr - I forget his rank at the time, General Coetzee ...(intervention)
GEN NEETHLING: Full General, he was the Commissioner.
MR VALLY: And ...(intervention)
GEN NEETHLING: Lieutenant-General Nico Nieuwoudt, Surgeon-General. In the meeting would also have been General Viljoen, but they told me General Viljoen could unfortunately not be present, as something had come up. He was supposed to have been there, but he wasn't.
MR VALLY: And General Viljoen, what was his position at the time?
GEN NEETHLING: He was the Head of the Defence Force.
MR VALLY: So the Defence Force was the - did he send someone in his place?
GEN NEETHLING: No, it was only those three persons and I.
MR VALLY: So they advised you to supply Dr Wouter Basson with mandrax, LSD and dagga?
GEN NEETHLING: That's correct, yes.
MR VALLY: Alright, let's go on from there, you mentioned that you supplied him with mandrax on three occasions to your knowledge?
GEN NEETHLING: As far as I can remember, it's 15 years ago already.
MR VALLY: And secondly, you earlier on said on one occasion there were 100 000 mandrax tablets, is that correct?
GEN NEETHLING: No, I said that at one stage we had up to 100 000 tablets in our possession as the cases built up and we repossess these things, but once a year these tablets were destroyed and we burned it because - it was a mess, it wasn't easy to burn these things. Iscor wasn't very happy.
MR VALLY: How much mandrax do you think you supplied to ...(intervention)
GEN NEETHLING: An ordinary mandrax tablet's content is 250 milligram, it's a ¼ gram per tablet. In other words, four tablets is one gram and 4000 tablets are a kilogram, and a 100 000 tablets are 25 kilograms, if I have to make quick calculations.
MR VALLY: How many tablets - mandrax tablets in total did you supply to Dr Wouter Basson?
GEN NEETHLING: I think it was probably between 100 000 and 200 000, between 25 and 50 kilograms of methaqualone, but now I must also say that one is not going to get 100% extraction, and even though we say that there is 250 mg, perhaps you most probably will only get 80%, you'll never 100% back. So let's make it 50 kilograms maximum as a substance to be used for further synthesis for a changing of the molecules to be more physiologically active, because one of the problems of methaqualone is that you cannot burn it very easily.
In other words, if you put it into a smoke formulation, then you destroy the active ingredients, and that's the big problem we have with CS, the normal teargas which to South African Police uses. The problem is that when you put it into the grenade, you pay so much for the grenade, it costs R50,00 of which R30,00 is for the active ingredient, and you only get 15% back. The other 85% is being burned, it's as good as taking a roll of money and burning it, and this is uneconomical, and that is why CR is so much better. It has a much better formulation to be broken down into powder form with less activity, less costs and much higher physiological activity.
MR VALLY: Let's just come back to this, I am going to come to CR gas rest assured ...(intervention)
GEN NEETHLING: I couldn't hear.
MR VALLY: We will get back to this.
GEN NEETHLING: No problem.
MR VALLY: I want to stick to what we're talking about now, in your estimation you gave Dr Wouter Basson between 100 000 and 200 000 mandrax tablets?
GEN NEETHLING: Approximately, yes.
MR VALLY: How much LSD did you give him?
GEN NEETHLING: I think there wasn't much more than 5000 of the different cases, from 10 or 15 cases, everything was thrown into a holder or container and average activity was not much more that 30 micrograms per tablet. Let's make it 33.33 micrograms, in other words, one needs 1000 tablets for 1 milligram and 10 000 for 10 milligrams, and then you hope that this is the average activity, because the LSD is inclined to bet light-effective, it changes with light, it deteriorates, or disintegrates and that is why it is kept in silver paper or aluminium paper, it doesn't want light, nor does it want any watery substance, so I don't think I gave him any more LSD than 5 milligrams, but it's a great deal if you say that you have 5 milligrams of pure LSD, then with that you can theoretically put 50 000 men on a trip. If you can have every chap breathing in 50 micrograms it's an ideal substance, just like ecstasy, if I could give ecstasy to every person, he will not make war, but love, then I can in a matter of 10 minutes, I can change his whole spiritual condition, and this is what happens in the lives of the young people today. I live behind a rave club and this is definitely not a casino, these people just carry on from Friday till Sunday on two tablets.
MR VALLY: So we've got approximately 5000 LSD tablets, we've got approximately between 100 000 and 200 000 mandrax tablets, how much dagga did you give Dr Basson?
GEN NEETHLING: I want to tell you that while you asked these questions, I knew that this question was coming. I'm trying to recall, but I don't think it was more that 5 bags, 5 of these canvass bags, because we have a big problem at the laboratory that it's not at all equipped for any synthesis or any extraction on a large scale, because our samples are always too small we work on a micro-scale, never on a macro-scale. If you therefore take dagga and you want to start extracting kilogram of dagga when we do not have to ability. He had to bring his own pots, I did not have the pots or the glass apparatus to do this. Where he obtained this I do not know, neither did I ask, but he extracted it and with that he left. I think that it wasn't more than 5 bags and this took him quite a while because it had to be done bit by bit.
I will try and calculate this, a bag is approximately 50 kilograms if it is well filled, and the percentage of active ingredient if it is good Durban dagga that you get in the Valley, which the people are crazy about in Europe and wherever, then you can get 2½% oil from it. In other words we say that 5 bags X 50 kilograms is 250 kilograms. 250 kilograms X 2,5 ¸ 100 = 2,5 kilograms X 2, gives you approximately 7 kilograms of oil, 8 kilograms if you work very well, but I do not believe that he took 7 kilograms of oil away. This is now the active ingredient, this must still be - he was still to get another substance from that and 30% thereof is the molecule that I am looking for to start with to be able to make derivatives or to try and get that molecule, so it was most probably a third of 9 kilograms, let's say that is 3 kilograms of active ingredient.
In other words, that is what I wanted and with that I hoped to be able to do enough tests to know whether it works or not. Obviously it did not work because we never heard of it again. We did not hear about LSD, ...(indistinct), nor about dagga and on two occasions I was involved in the turning into powder of mandrax which became a reality later because they changed the whole formula of burning this - of organic material. At 55 degrees, everything is broken down, so you must get something that remains cold while you make smoke, and that's not so easy.
An ordinary cigarette if you draw in, then the point of that cigarette's temperature is between 500 and 600 degrees Celsius. The more oxygen that comes through, the higher the temperature goes, and this is what you do not want, and this was the big problem with methaqualone, to get it to such a state that it would end up in the air, and together with the lactose and the prorate and nitrates which are used to combust this, that is still remains active and does not burn.
CHAIRPERSON: I think this will be a convenient stage to go and take lunch and smoke cigarettes and dagga ...(indistinct). We'll adjourn until 14h00.
CHAIRPERSON: Can we get ready to start ladies and gentlemen.
Mr Vally. General, may I remind you that you are still under oath.
LOTHAR NEETHLING: (s.u.o.)
MR VALLY: General Neethling we have just talked about the quantities of mandrax, LSD and dagga you supplied to Dr Wouter Basson at the request of the Minister of Police in the presence of the Commissioner as well as the Surgeon-General at the time, Dr Nieuwoudt, and you advised us that were informed the purpose was to see if it could be used in some form as a means of crowd control or riot control?
GEN NEETHLING: Yes, riot control, or the control of crowds, and kind of as a sleeping drug. This came from the study group consisting of the people from the Army, the Police and from Armscor. We met once every three months, we sat around a table and we discussed the needs of the Security Forces regarding the activities which were going on and the question of the obtaining of water canons and obtaining other substances which were required or gas masks, it was a big problem, the Security Forces did not have gas masks.
When the riots started in 1976, the South African Police were caught unawares. They had nothing apart from guns, shotguns, and sharp point ammunition. Nobody wanted to use that and that's why there was a surge for various techniques to be applied.
And to prevent riots studies were undertaken. I went overseas three times to Germany, England, Israel, America to find the best techniques available.
CHAIRPERSON: In history is recorded that sharp ammunition was used in 1976.
GEN NEETHLING: Absolutely yes, but it was not the first choice, Mr Chairman. When the riots started we tried to make other plans. There was limited amounts of teargas, it was not enough. The people who supplied the CS, I don't want to even mention their names, because they won't believe it that they were the people who provided us with that, we had no capability whatsoever, and the few grenades we had we could not handle one big unrest whether we wanted to or not, and there was a different philosophy, a different approach regarding riot control or the control of crowds. We did our utmost most best, for the last seven, eight years it went better.
MR VALLY: Gen Neethling, just confirm again what date was this meeting, the one with Mr Le Grange?
GEN NEETHLING: It was between August 1983 or the beginning of 1984, I don't know exactly when, because at that stage you had a conversation, you talked to somebody, and you went along. I didn't make notes of dates, I didn't write down the date, but afterwards things took place, CR was developed, and I know when that took place the first time, I physically made contact with Dr Wouter Basson and I talked to him for quite a while was when we attended the first conference in Kent in 1984 in May. I made no secret of that, that certificate was in my office. I handed it in to Higher Court and I handed it in to the Appeal Court in 1994. There was nothing secret about that ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: Fine, we'll come back to CR gas ...(intervention)
GEN NEETHLING: I just want to give the date, it was May 1984.
MR VALLY: This is the reference to the conference in Kent, is that Belgium?
GEN NEETHLING: It's in Belgium, yes.
MR VALLY: We'll come back to CR gas in a short while.
GEN NEETHLING: Good.
MR VALLY: I still want to pursue the issue of the other drugs that were passed on to Dr Wouter Basson. The first question I want to ask you is this, how was the physical transfer made, the delivery?
GEN NEETHLING: The physical transfer was physically provided to Dr Basson, loaded into his car with my Staff Officer, retired as a Brigadier, Brig Arnold Mentz. I usually told him, Arnold how many are there, get 50 000, 60 000 tablets, and it was brought to his office next to mine, it was in the Jacob Marais Building. Then Dr Basson would collect it from there, put it in his car and drive away. The same with the LSG. The dagga was conveyed by Dr Sotas. He took that oil and left with that. Later on I realised that he was employed at Roodeplaat. I did not know where, I never saw him again.
MR VALLY: Fine, so there was personal delivery under your instructions by your ...(intervention)
GEN NEETHLING: Yes, when he came there he greeted me.
MR VALLY: Fine, now at this stage, did you have the consent of the Medical Control Council regarding the delivery of the mandrax?
GEN NEETHLING: Not at all. My Medical Control Council, the contact with them was limited. Later on I served on a committee, a scheduling committee of the Medical Control Body. I served there for four years.
MR VALLY: Well, let me rephrase my question.
GEN NEETHLING: Please.
MR VALLY: Didn't you require, I'm sorry, there are headphones there if you require them, Gen Neethling.
GEN NEETHLING: No, I'm a little bit hard hearing because of the tons of antibiotic I had in the last two years which I'm sorry about.
MR VALLY: No, that's fine, but I mean it will help you with the volume as well, if you need it, it's up to you.
GEN NEETHLING: I'll try.
MR VALLY: No, it's up to you, and there's a volume control on it. Sorry, let us continue.
From a legal point of view, as a Policeman, if someone other than the Police in the course of the investigations were to be given such large quantities of, and these were all illegal drugs, surely you needed some consent to legalise the possession of such drugs.
GEN NEETHLING: I had that. I was provided by the Minister, under the Minister's instruction. He instructed me, assist those people because from that we will make derivatives which we could use. I'm also a pseudo policeman, just like the pseudo scientist, as a Policeman we did - do you know I gave Delta G the certificate that they may posses teargas. They produced teargas, and for that they required a certificate according to law, according to the law of 1984, the teargas act.
MR VALLY: Did you comply with the law requiring specific exemption?
GEN NEETHLING: Not at all.
MR VALLY: So, the holding of those drugs by Dr Basson, after it left your possession, Dr Basson would have been in illegal possession of those drugs in terms of the law?
GEN NEETHLING: With respect, that statement is incorrect. If a person acts on the instruction of the Minister of Security and of Chief of the Defence Force and if he has access to certain substances in order to do certain analysis, there is no basis to say that it is in his possession illegally.
MR VALLY: I want to respond, I think you can be the President of the country, but if you had illegal substances and you do not follow the procedures in terms of the letter of the law, you can be charged. The charges I'm relating to are in connection with both - you were ultimately a General in the Police Force, I'm not sure if you were Brigadier at this time already,
GEN NEETHLING: No, in 1984 I was a Major-General.
MR VALLY: Which is even more senior than Brigadier. You were Major-General in the Police Force and you were a pseudo policeman but it was your laboratories, it was your department that tested items that was sent before people were convicted for possession of drugs. Is that correct?
GEN NEETHLING: That is correct yes. I provided the material.
MR VALLY: Were you aware that it was very serious offence to have such a large quantity of habit producing substances, unlawful substances?
My learned friend did not answer and he's just continuing with his questioning, I thought he was avoiding it, and that's why I left the matter, but he must still answer me.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, except just as I thought that I should be placed in a position to make a ruling your client went ahead and answered in any event. Now, Mr Vally, do you want to lay a basis for this conclusion, because it is really a conclusion that you are coming at, can you establish whether in fact Dr Wouter Basson did not have permission, like the General said he had permission, to be in possession.
MR VALLY: Mr Chairperson what Dr Neethling said, and what his counsel was implying was because the instructions came from the Minister and the Commissioner, etc, that there would be no illegality involved. I am querying this and I'm ...(indistinct) this from two legs, but maybe I should first respond to the objection which I thought I had. There was an act called the Medicines and related substances Act, no 101 ...(intervention)
GEN NEETHLING: From 1964, that's correct.
MR VALLY: You are aware of the act?
GEN NEETHLING: Oh yes, we worked with it every day. We caught people every day pushing drugs, giving it to the kids.
MR VALLY: So you are an expert in that area?
GEN NEETHLING: I wouldn't say I'm an expert at law, but I'm an expert in saying that we knew that when people brought in the evidence, we never collected any evidence, these were the people from the Police, the operation Police. I'm not an operation Policeman, I've never arrested a man in my life, and for God's sake, I hope I never have to.
MR VALLY: Did Dr Basson have the necessary exemption in terms of the Medicines and related substances Act?
GEN NEETHLING: I don't know. What I know is that doctors get away with murder, literally, in the sense that they can have anything in their possession, they can have morphine, they can have anything which is schedule 6, 7, 8 or 9 without possessing any paper. That is the strength or the power of that medical profession. I never queried his bona fides, I never thought that Dr Basson would provide or sell or use one gram of that himself.
MR VALLY: And you believe now that he did do that?
GEN NEETHLING: Yes, I still believe it. I don't think he used one microgram of any of those substances or sold any of that. Why would he do that?
MR VALLY: Well, let's come back to my question.
GEN NEETHLING: What was your question?
MR VALLY: The question is this, that as a very senior Policemen and as the expert on these drugs, because that was your field ...(intervention)
GEN NEETHLING: Expert on the drugs does not mean expert on exemption of the law.
MR VALLY: Yes, I accept that.
GEN NEETHLING: Thank you.
MR VALLY: Surely you would consider it of importance that a person you are putting in that dangerous position, remember with the quantities you are talking about, the person would not only be charged with possession, he would be charge with, tell us,
GEN NEETHLING: Possession, simply possession, it's in the boot, it's in the back of his car, it's three cartons of tablets ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: No, I agree that you're not an expert on the law, but he would be charged with dealing.
GEN NEETHLING: Me?
MR VALLY: Not you.
GEN NEETHLING: The medical man?
MR VALLY: That's right.
GEN NEETHLING: Never, why?
MR VALLY: Because, he's transferring it from place A to place B.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally is there anything that he is going to tell, I can quite appreciate, but he's not a lawyer, he possibly doesn't differentiate between what constitutes possession and when does possession become dealing, what quantities do you ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: Can I ask that question very briefly. Based on the fact that Gen Neethling was in charge of the Police laboratories ...(intervention)
CHAIRPERSON: He was not in charge of SANAB. Maybe people in SANAB might have known what constitutes possession, quantities ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: No, the fact is that the certificate which had to be produced to courts, no 1 had to confirm the substance and no 2 the quantities, and a gram or a couple of grams this way or that way made a difference between 5 or 10 years in jail.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Vally, I will allow it only to the extent that it is necessary for you to put something on the record, I don't really think it's going to take us anywhere, unless you indicate to me what objective you're seeking to establish.
MR VALLY: Certainly.
GEN NEETHLING: If I can put it on record, that's my attitude as well, Mr Chairman, I don't really think anything turns on this. I differ from Mr Vally's view on the law and I have a serious problem with his legal argument in getting to that, but I would rather suggest he put what he wishes to put, get the response so we can proceed. We don't need to waste further time on this, so I will abide the decision, I think that is the way that we should handle the matter.
CHAIRPERSON: Don't be tempted into responding, I can see you are - just put your hand across you mouth and let's get on with it, I'm serious. Mr Vally?
MR VALLY: The one question you allowed me to ask on that issue before I go on, Mr Chairperson, you're aware that when you gave certificates to courts regarding drugs which was sent to the Police laboratories, that you also would have to give the quantities found, because it is relevant, (a) to the charge, and (b) to the possible sentencing.
GEN NEETHLING: With regards to dagga, yes, but for other schedule 6, 7, 8, yes, should you be caught there would have been a statement, it's as easy as that. A SANAB person is always in private clothes. He walks along with a lot of evidence before he gets to the laboratory, and nobody catches him. I never thought that a doctor, a registered doctor, would be caught with any substance which can be used for the improvement of humanity, never ever.
MR VALLY: I don't know about classifying mandrax as something which will ...(intervention)
GEN NEETHLING: No, you don't understand. The purpose was that it to be used to get away ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: We'll come back to that, okay, I'll pursue that. I put to you, that you did not concern yourself with the fact that the possession of those drugs, the mandrax, the LSD, the dagga, by Dr Basson, whether that fact of his possession of those drugs was legal or illegal was of no concern of yours.
GEN NEETHLING: Not at all, because I had my instruction from the Minister who told me, that this is what the people requires from you, can you assist them, and I said yes Minister, thank you Minister, goodbye Minister. That's what you say to a Minister.
MR VALLY: If the Minister ordered you to murder someone, would you?
GEN NEETHLING: No, no and Louis le Grange was not that type of person.
MR VALLY: Because you knew it was an illegal act
GEN NEETHLING: No, it would have been against my grain to kill somebody, I've never killed anybody.
MR VALLY: Not because it's illegal?
GEN NEETHLING: No, it had nothing to do with illegality, what I understand here, and I can see from the evidence I read in the newspapers, don't believe what is written in the newspaper, if that is true what is written there, we should start by saying I am a conservative Afrikaner brought up in the Dutch Reform Church, and I don't believe in murder. Is that good enough?
MR VALLY: I hear what you're saying. Gen Neethling, did you ever enquire about the control mechanisms from a security point of view?
GEN NEETHLING: Not at all. Not of any nature with regarding the substances I provided to Dr Basson. After they've my office, it was put in his motor car, I never made any enquiries. I asked what was happening with the mandrax product, how far are you in developing those things into a powder, and they said they had problems getting it up in their ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: Into their, sorry, the interpreter cut short, you said they had problems?
GEN NEETHLING: They had problems to make it kind of into a powder form to get it up into the air.
MR VALLY: You are aware that mandrax is a massive social problem in our society.
GEN NEETHLING: I know it is a serious - being seriously abused during weekends, yes.
MR VALLY: You are aware that there is a massive crime problem in this country which can be directly linked in some instances to the proliferation of drug lords who control the sourcing and selling of mandrax amongst others?
GEN NEETHLING: It's worldwide, yes there was a large conference, I'm aware of the problem.
MR VALLY: We're talking about mandrax.
GEN NEETHLING: It's worldwide.
MR VALLY: We've got the unique situation where mandrax is a drug of abuse in South Africa, on a proportion far exceeding any other country in the world. Would you agree with that?
GEN NEETHLING: The reason is because we're the only country in the world which has such good access to mandrax via our Indian connection, yes.
MR VALLY: I see.
GEN NEETHLING: All the illegal laboratories in India are responsible for the wonderful provision of methaqualone in any form whatsoever to the Republic of South Africa.
MR VALLY: Yet you were prepared to release between 100 000 and 200 00 mandrax tablets put into the boot of Dr Basson's car, personally under your supervision ...(intervention)
GEN NEETHLING: At three instances, not 200 000 at a time, at three various stages, just make sure of your facts, it's 70 000 per time approximately, 3 X 70 is about 200 000. I was satisfied to put it in the boot of his car because I knew he's a responsible physician who would do with it what we expected, that is, put them in grenades and burn it, and also to make derivatives from that. He had a team of scientists, I knew some of them ...(intervention)
MR VALLY: Let me repeat my question, mandrax abuse is a massive social problem,
GEN NEETHLING: That's right.
MR VALLY: You got to know Dr Basson better at the conference in Belgium in 1984, you didn't really know him that well, you are pseudo Policeman,
GEN NEETHLING: Yes.
MR VALLY: The very fact that you were getting such large quantities of mandrax and the fact that you were providing certificates on a regular basis for people being charge or prosecuted and convicted in court, involving mandrax, you are probably aware of papers written on drug abuse in South Africa,
GEN NEETHLING: Yes.
MR VALLY: You're aware of the extent of the drug abuse in South Africa?
GEN NEETHLING: Yes.
MR VALLY: But as this pseudo Policeman, a Major-General,
GEN NEETHLING: Yes.
MR VALLY: You put, or arranged for 200 000 mandrax on three different occasions, altogether 200 000 tablets, without concerning yourself about the security risk, about the fact that it may get onto the streets, that it may be abused, that it may be re-sold.
GEN NEETHLING: That is absolutely correct. I have no doubt that these things will be channelled in the correct channels, because there were other people who participated in this project, there were other people who isolated this methaqualone and tried to make derivatives of that and they tried to get it into the air with grenades. What I saw myself, it didn't work.
MR VALLY: I will come back to that in a short while. So, you simply did not concern yourself with that?
GEN NEETHLING: That is correct.
MR POTGIETER: General, did Dr Basson give you a receipt?
GEN NEETHLING: No. It was at three instances, at three occasions apart from the dagga, and I did not request a receipt, not for any of those three transactions, not for one of those. I can't remember that I ever saw a receipt. I never requested one. What you have to understand, Mr Chairman, an instruction was given to me, your facility in the South African Police from the Minister to the responsible person, and he said we will try to exercise riot control or crowd control better, assist those people, we can't import that, it is too expensive, it is prohibited. If you buy those chemicals red flags will be seen worldwide because they're monitoring this, and they know that somebody is doing something, that is how they obtain their information to combat the drug problem worldwide, and I didn't have the least doubt that this was a bona fide operation, and after, what I really have to say, it was, because you won't spend hundreds of thousands to establish a laboratory, and that just to sell a few mandrax tablets.
ADV POTGIETER: Wait, wait, what was the idea with the dagga? Was the idea that they extract the oil to see whether it could be used and then to get more and more oil?
GEN NEETHLING: No, to use that oil and put it in a grenade, like an ordinary grenade, instead of teargas, you could add teargas to the dagga oil. We know the people all become hooked where people are smoking dagga. When you can get this dagga into a person, you will take away his desire to fight, quickly, and then we would have clapped our hands.
ADV POTGIETER: Now you'll find out that this dagga is going to work. What would they have done, planted dagga countrywide?
GEN NEETHLING: Yes, they would reaped the dagga and they would put those in grenades all the time.
ADV POTGIETER: And all the mealie fields in the Free State would be converted into dagga fields?
GEN NEETHLING: No, there's enough in KwaZulu Natal.
ADV POTGIETER: So Le Grange and his people would have planted dagga?
GEN NEETHLING: There would have been enough because to know that there's another substance apart from teargas which could take his desire for riots out of his life, and dagga is one of the things we know which will work. We know it works, a person is aggressive, he smokes dagga, then he goes and sits in a corner, and he has peace with himself.
ADV POTGIETER: You weren't shocked that these three drug depending substances ...(intervention)
GEN NEETHLING: To use those drug dependency substances means everyday people must use it, but if you throw a grenade in Church Street because there is a process march, and they want to break the shops down, and this person isn't going to smoke the dagga again tomorrow, it will only be the dagga bomb today. If somebody cause problems, and if you can throw the dagga, this is a philosophy that we said is was like that, and if you give enough, you will force somebody to get to the water like a horse, and they wouldn't do anything else, and then we would have given them dagga and say smoke it, and then it never would have been necessary to use a weapon, and I would have shout Hallelujah.
CHAIRPERSON: Except only if the dagga was a means to an end, the end being to arrest people at the end of the day. Mrs Sooka?
MS SOOKA: General, I have a question, you talked about "hulle" and I assume the hulle was your opposition,
GEN NEETHLING: The riot crowds, the crowds like in Uitenhage and they start protesting and we are frightened, what do I have to do, I don't want to shoot, I don't want to use my Casspir, I don't want to go in there and kill the people, what can I do? I can try to use water canons like they did in Cape Town, it works wonderfully. It works in Germany, one of the most civilised countries in the world, but also teargas, it works in America. In America they use this, but they don't tell us that. When there are problems, quickly the crowds are being controlled with teargas and they walk away like lambs.
MS SOOKA: I'm quite ignorant about chemical matters, and surely if you were shooting this stuff off, it would create dependency in the population?
GEN NEETHLING: No, no, not at all. To be dependant on dagga or to be dependant on methaqualone, it costs you a reasonable time of constant consuming, you don't expect that any person like a professional riot person, there are no such persons.
MS SOOKA: Can I ask you a question, did you ever check with Mr Basson on whether he ever produced this gas and that it actually ended up where it was supposed to, not on the streets?
GEN NEETHLING: I myself saw those grenades, and they didn't work. There was machinery being tested, special machinery being tested to ignite and combust those substances to determine the gas components,
MS SOOKA: You see, I just find it very strange that in a country where we have such an incredible problem with mandrax that you were content to allow such a huge amount to go off into somebody's possession where you retained very little checking at all.
GEN NEETHLING: It sounds like a large number of tablets, it's 50 kilograms. The amount of grams required for one grenade is 30 grams according to the normal procedures. That means that you can make a few thousand grenades, and that would be the end of the story. Those will not make any one person dependant on it, but it will combat the unrest. You don't want that the person will become so angry that he doesn't care whether he dies or not, you want to calm them down. There were techniques where they used helicopters for these grenades.
MS SOOKA: It just sounds so terrible that it wasn't so dangerous, I think we're laughing, but we actually underestimate what you actually got up to. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Dr Randera?
MR RANDERA: General, I understood you to tell us earlier on that you were the Head of Forensic Services for the Police.
GEN NEETHLING: That is correct, I was in charge of six different departments, one of which was, since 1985, the Forensic Department.
MR RANDERA: Right, now riot control, does that fall under - does that come within your ambit as well?
GEN NEETHLING: Oh yes, I had control, I was involved with since we started having riots in this country, since 1976.
MR RANDERA: Just explain to me, how does that fall within forensics?
GEN NEETHLING: Well, one of the things is, how do you apply teargas to be most effective and to be economic, and this is a chemical agent, and a chemical agent ...(intervention)
MR RANDERA: Sorry, Dr hold on. Perhaps I have a very simple view as a support service that the Forensic Department is supposed to be playing, you are supposed to be providing a support to the Police Officers to be making a diagnosis in assisting them coming to a trial, or making ...(intervention)
GEN NEETHLING: Yes, I know what you're saying.
MR RANDERA: That's my understanding.
GEN NEETHLING: That's part of it. That's only part of it, sir. The Policemen, the real Policemen, not a pseudo Policeman like I am, they have various techniques and knowledge the ordinary Policeman does not have. I know the nature of the chemicals we are working with. If a grenade is being thrown somewhere and people are hurt, or it's said the people have become ill, or perhaps they died, where do they run to, they run to me, and then they tell me, come and explain to us what had happened here, is it possible, can somebody die from CS?
MR RANDERA: Hold on, Dr, that's exactly the point I'm making, that you are there to assist in diagnosing, let's say, where CS gas has been used, but you are now telling me that, and you seem to have incredible knowledge about it ...(intervention)
GEN NEETHLING: I hope I do.
MR RANDERA: That you were now getting into an area whereas gas was going to be produced to control these situations.
GEN NEETHLING: That's correct.
MR RANDERA: Now, I, as I - what I would understand from that is that it's actually out of your ambit. That's not within your department to be involving yourself in that.
GEN NEETHLING: No, you're making a mistake. The mistake you are making, as a scientist, the question is posed to me by the Head of the counter-insurgency unit, we are having problems with the grenades, they are not effective. What is the problem, and go to Swartklip, they produce them, see what happens, speak to Swartklip, find out what the problem is. The problem is it is the wrong kind of teargas. It's not being used effectively. Swartklip knows it, but they don't care, they have a formula, they are making their money. Whether we use 10 000 handgrenades per day, or not, it makes a difference because they make the money. For us it is very important to improve it. Now, who is the person