Cricket South Africa's acting President Willie Basson accused of anti-apartheid oppression

Calls for Willie Basson s resignation mounted following the latest developments © AFP

From Fakir Hassan

Johannesburg: Dec 14, 2012

Embattled Cricket South Africa (CSA) is facing a new challenge as calls mounted for the resignation of its acting president, Willie Basson, following allegations that he was part of apartheid-era chemical warfare research programmes aimed at oppressing the black majority.

Basson has in the past two years been seen as the champion within CSA to bring about transformation that includes getting more members of the majority black community into the national side.

But now the much-criticised lack of transformation has been challenged on the basis of Basson’s involvement in programmes of the then white minority government to develop chemical weapons designed to assist in the oppression of the black majority, the ‘The New Age’ reported on Friday.

Among these were plans to create a substance to reduce fertility among the black community and inducing cholera outbreaks within that community.

Basson was one of the first scientists recruited in 1981 by Dr Wouter Basson (no relation to Willie Basson) for Project Coast, a chemical warfare facility that was one of the apartheid government’s tools for oppression, the report said.

Wouter Basson, dubbed “Dr Death” because of his projects, is currently under investigation by the Health Professionals Council for his role in the chemicals warfare exercise.

The doubts cast on Willie Basson emanate from the fact that he was head of one of the two companies in the project, Delta G Scientific.

Basson told the daily that he had done no “offensive work” during the two years he spent working on Project Coast.

“I was a professor at the time and had done some research on the subject so I was approached to use my research to start a chemical warfare facility,” Basson said, adding that he was under the impression that the project was about defence work only.

“I started getting concerned so I did my work, which was mostly paperwork, and then I left after two years. The work there continued for many years after that. In that time, there were always rumours about what was going on. When it all finally came out, I was disturbed, but I had no problem about my involvement in defensive research,” Basson was quoted by the daily as saying.

The cricketing fraternity has been stunned by the revelations, but most preferred not to comment publicly, except for Western Province Cricket president Beresford Williams, who called for Basson to step down.

Cricket South Africa’s transformation plans have already been rejected by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, with Deputy Sports Minister Gert Oosthuizen expected to intervene in the impasse.