In a shocking confession, made on camera in a new documentary released last month, a former member of South Africa’s Apartheid-era intelligence service says that the Aids virus, and other diseases, were deliberately spread among the population in an effort to kill off as many blacks as possible. His confession, considered just the tip of the iceberg, has reignited the simmering debate about the whole phenomenon of Aids in Africa. Report by Baffour Ankomah.
In a shocking confession, made on camera in a new documentary – Cold Case Hammarskjöld – a former member of South Africa’s Apartheid-era intelligence service says that the Aids virus, and other diseases, were deliberately spread among the population in an effort to kill off as many blacks as possible. His confession, considered just the tip of the iceberg, has reignited the simmering debate about the whole phenomenon of Aids in Africa.
Until February 2019, most Africans did not know about the Sundance Film Festival, a programme of the Sundance Institute, which takes place annually in Park City, Utah in America. Now they know because something controversial happened at the Festival this year that will live with Africans for a long time to come. Having had 224,900 attendees in 2018, Sundance is the largest independent film festival in the US. This year it took place between 24 January and 3 February – the attendance figure is not yet out.
What is out is controversy – a damning confession by a former Apartheid-era operative who admitted on camera, in one of the films shown, that he and his colleagues at the South African Institute for Maritime Research (SAIMR), which masterminded coups and other forms of violence across Africa in the 1970s and 80s, deliberately spread the HIV virus in the Southern African region to wipe out black people.
Alexander Jones, who says he “spent years as an intelligence officer” with SAIMR 30 years ago, became the centre of attraction on the third day of the Sundance Festival when the Danish/Swedish-made documentary, Cold Case Hammarskjöld, was screened.
Sources in South Africa say SAIMR was linked to the country’s notorious chemical and biological warfare (CBW) programme headed by Dr Wouter Basson, a programme which Apartheid racists used as a cover to kill black people in South Africa and beyond or do them serious harm. The racists’ ‘operational area’ was what used to be called the ‘Frontline States’ (now known simply as the SADC region). We covered Dr Basson’s operations in detail in our 2001 November Edition.
South Africa’s CBW programme also had links with Rhodesia’s, and the pair did a lot of harm to black Africans, including spreading cholera and other dangerous diseases in the region, and topping it up with HIV/Aids experimentation.
Worse, when independence was approaching in Zimbabwe, there are suggestions that Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government, with tacit support from South Africa, rushed to remove the evidence by killing a lot of black people who were subjects of the CBW experiments.
Digging out the truth
Cold Case Hammarskjöld was made by Mads Brügger (Danish) and Göran Björkdahl (Swedish). The documentary investigates the case of the former UN secretary-general, Dag Hammarskjöld, who died in a mysterious plane crash near Ndola, Zambia, in 1961.
We were at war. Black people in South Africa were the enemy…Alexander Jones
During the hearings of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1998, letters with SAIMR’s official letterhead were found suggesting that the CIA and British intelligence had agreed that “Hammarskjöld should be removed”. But London and Washington denied involvement in Hammarskjöld’s assassination.
In the course of making the new film, Brügger and Björkdahl’s investigations led them to Alexander Jones, who told them on camera that SAIMR (which had operated with the support of the CIA and British intelligence), used bogus vaccinations to spread the HIV virus in the SADC region. “We were at war. Black people in South Africa were the enemy,” Jones told the filmmakers.
He confessed that he and his SAIMR colleagues “spread the virus” in the 1980s and 90s under the command of their leader Keith Maxwell, who wanted a white majority country, saying “the excesses of the 1960s, 70s and 80s have no place in the post-Aids world ”.
“What easier way to get a guinea pig than you live in an Apartheid system?” Jones says in the film. “Black people have got no rights, they need medical treatment. There is a white ‘philanthropist’ coming in and saying, ‘You know, I will open up these clinics and I will treat you.’ And meantime [he is] actually the wolf in sheep’s clothing.”Alexander Jones
Maxwell died in 2006. People who knew him say he had no medical qualifications but operated clinics in the poor black neighbourhoods of Johannesburg. His headquarters was at Putfontein where his signpost, with his name ‘Dokotela Maxwell’, still hangs in front of the building where he operated.
One local shopkeeper said Maxwell had given “false injections”. But Claude Newbury, an anti-abortion doctor, told the filmmakers: “He was against genocide and he was trying to discover a cure for HIV.”
Jones, however, insists that Maxwell used the cover of a doctor to do “sinister experimentation”. His claim was backed up by Ibrahim Karolia, whose shop was across the road from where Maxwell operated.
He told the filmmakers that Maxwell had provided “false injections” and “strange treatments”, and also put patients through “tubes” which he said allowed him to see inside their bodies.
Jones also disclosed that SAIMR operated outside South Africa. “We were involved in Mozambique, spreading the Aids virus through medical conditions,” he says in the film, revealing that he did visit a research facility in the 1990s that was used “for sinister experimentation” and that the intent was “to eradicate black people”.
“What easier way to get a guinea pig than you live in an Apartheid system?” Jones says in the film. “Black people have got no rights, they need medical treatment. There is a white ‘philanthropist’ coming in and saying, ‘You know, I will open up these clinics and I will treat you.’ And meantime [he is] actually the wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
South Africa’s Josef Mengele
Documents discovered by Brügger and Björkdahl show Maxwell held extremely disturbing views. “[South Africa] may well have one man, one vote with a white majority by the year 2000,” Maxwell wrote. “Religion in its conservative, traditional form will return. Abortion on demand, abuse of drugs, and the other excesses of the 1960s, 70s and 80s will have no place in the post-Aids world,” he added.
According to the Observer South Africa, which broke the story, “The [Maxwell] documents read like the fever dream of a man who aspired to be South Africa’s Josef Mengele. [Joseph ‘Angel of Death’ Mengele was the senior SS officer who carried out inhuman experiments on Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz during World War II – Ed.] There are detailed, if sometimes garbled, accounts of how he thought the HIV virus could be isolated, propagated and used to target black Africans.”
One SAIMR recruit, Dagmar Feil, a marine biologist, was murdered outside her home in Johannesburg in 1990 for fear she would expose SAIMR’s dark deeds.
We all know how Aids is transmitted from person to person; there is no confusion there. The question is whether or not another agency played an active part in starting or accelerating the chain-reaction in some places. Jones says it did and that the agency was the dreaded SAIMR.
Her brother, Karl Feil, told Brügger and Björkdahl: “My sister came to me and said she needed to confide in me. She sat with me and said she thought they were going to kill her. She said that three or four others in her team had already been murdered, but when I asked what team, she said she couldn’t tell me.
“The topic of Aids research came up several times, quite loosely in conversations, I never put two and two together. Instead, she asked me to go with her to church, so she could make right with God. Weeks later she was dead.”
But while the revelations in the documentary have stunned the world, the blowback has already started. The New York Times has dismissed Alexander Jones’ revelations as a “conspiracy theory”. Reporting his story on 27 January, the paper asked the question: “But is this true?”
“The notion that HIV is a man-made virus introduced as population control has been floating around for decades,” The New York Times says. “Before the conspiracy theory took hold in Africa, it appeared as part of disinformation campaigns from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.”
So now it is the fault of the Soviet Union! But it is the usual trick the Western establishment media employs to defend Western interests.
“Scientists immediately cast doubt on [ Jones’] claim, which they called medically dubious. ‘The probability that they were able to do this is close to zero,’” The New York Times goes on to say, quoting Dr Salim Abdool Karim, the director of Caprisa, an AIDS research centre in South Africa.
The paper says Dr Karim cited “the immense resources that would be required to conduct such a far-fetched attempt at genocide. Notwithstanding the technological limitations of the 1990s, including [the need for] facilities to rival that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, in addition to millions of dollars in funding, HIV is extraordinarily difficult to isolate, transport and grow in a laboratory environment, let alone distribute en masse in a clandestine operation,” Dr Karim was said to have explained.
Yet, apart from wheeling out just one African (Dr Karim) to dismiss Jones’ account, The New York Times named no more scientists in its story to justify the assertion that “scientists immediately cast doubt on the claim”, apart from quoting Rebecca Hodes, director of the AIDS and Society Research Unit at the University of Cape Town, as having said: “Such mistruths can cause very real problems. One dangerous consequence of these allegations is that they have the potential to sow mistrust and suspicion of doctors and the medical establishment, and that they may confuse people about how HIV is transmitted.”
The truth will out
Not so. We all know how Aids is transmitted from person to person; there is no confusion there. The question is whether or not another agency played an active part in starting or accelerating the chain-reaction in some places. Jones says it did and that the agency was the dreaded SAIMR. He also spells out the motivation behind it – “to eradicate black people” – so that the whites could continue their dominance in South Africa. “We were at war”, he adds, implying that all is fair in love and war.
This has nothing to do with the often excellent work that doctors and the medical establishment, faced with HIV/ Aids, did to stem the tide of the disease. They were, and are still in some cases, firefighting and deserve all the credit they get. The question remains, who started the fire in the first place?
Jones’ confession is a bombshell. It confirms what many suspected at the time but were unable or indisposed to pursue further. It also helps explain many inconsistencies in the story of the development of Aids in Southern Africa.
But this is clearly just the tip of the iceberg – underneath lurks perhaps one of the most terrifying stories of modern times, how the Apartheid regime deliberately set out to commit genocide and how close it came to achieving its ends.
The confession might bring a sense of closure for some of the millions of Aids victims and their families or it may spark fresh anger. Of equal significance, it will finally lay to rest the oft-cited trope that Africans brought the curse of Aids on themselves due to their ‘unbridled sexuality’.
Why did Jones confess after such a long time? We cannot know for sure but there is such a thing as living with a guilty conscience and it will not be the first time that someone approaching the end of their lives feels compelled to confess to sins in order to lift the heavy burden they have carried on their souls for so long. The truth, as they say, will out – no matter how long it takes to do so. NA
Read more articles by Baffour Ankomah