A former government scientist told South Africa's truth commission on Tuesday that in the dying days of apartheid the government ordered its chemists to make one-metric ton of the drug ecstasy for riot control.
Dr. Johan Koekemoer, former head of chemical and biological weapons research at the secret Delta G facility, told the commission that he disapproved of the project."I did not believe ecstasy was a good incapacitant and I told my superiors that," Koekemoer told the commission, which is investigating human rights abuses during the apartheid era.
He said the overall chief of Delta G, Dr. Philip Mijburgh, told him to go ahead and said he had an official order for production of the drug, codenamed Baxil, from the surgeon general. The document was submitted as evidence.
"Ecstasy enhances interpersonal relationships. I told Dr. Mijburgh I did not want to kiss my enemy," Koekemoer said, adding that secret documents he had studied from the British chemical weapons plant at Porton Down supported his view.
He was speaking on the second day of a week of public hearings by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the apartheid government's chemical and biological warfare programme.
Koekemoer said he did not trust the motives for making the ecstasy, which he personally delivered in powder form to Mijburgh in small batches between February 1992 and January 1993 - barely a year before the country's first democratic elections.
"I did not understand why, so late in the day, they would want such a large quantity of this," he said.