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New Film Reveals Plot to Infect Black South Africans with HIV

South Africa's Aids epidemic is believed to have begun in 1982 which lead officials to call a state emergency which lasted from 1985 to 1990. | Photo: Reuters South Africa's Aids epidemic is believed to have begun in 1982 which lead officials to call a state emergency which lasted from 1985 to 1990. | Photo: Reuters
A new Sundance documentary has revealed that a paramilitary group allegedly attempted to spread HIV to South Africa’s Black communities during the 1980s and 1990s.

A former intelligence officer with the South African Institute of Maritime Research (SAIMR), Alexander Jones, was party to a clandestine racist agenda set by the group’s leader, Keith Maxwell, to trick Black South Africans into receiving “medical treatment” thereby spreading the virus.

In the documentary, Cold Case Hammarskjöld, Jones, who had little-to-no medical qualifications, confessed to masquerading as a doctor and treating the poor, lower class Black communities.

“What easier way to get a guinea pig than [when] you live in an apartheid system? Black people have got no rights, they need medical treatment. There’s a white ‘philanthropist’ coming in and saying, ‘You know, I’ll open up these clinics and I’ll treat you.’ And meantime [he is] actually the wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Jones said in the documentary which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Members of the community testified to the “strange treatments” and “false injections” offered by the doctor, whose name remains bolted on his former place of practice in the city of Putfontein.

Filmmaker Mads Brügger and co-producer Andreas Rocksen discovered evidence of the plan when investigating the suspicious death of then-U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld who died in a mysterious explosion in 1961 before his plane touched down in Zambia.

According to letters headed with the SAIMR logo, the CIA and British intelligence allegedly agreed that Hammarskjöld, who was a supporter of decolonization “should be removed,” the post-Apartheid South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said in 1998.

A clipping from South Africa's Sunday Times detailing the work of a SAIMR recruit, Debbie Campbell. Photo: The Sunday Times

However there is no concrete evidence suggesting that Maxwell had the financial ability to accomplish his genocidal dream.

One anti-abortion doctor, Claude Newbury, even said, “He was against genocide and he was trying to discover a cure for HIV.”

However, in a recently recovered document, Maxwell wrote, “[South Africa] may well have one man, one vote with a white majority by the year 2000. 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.”

Other letters revealed Maxwell’s feverish aspirations to isolate the HIV virus and propagate it against Black Africans.

Where AIDS were concerned, Jones said it was more than a pipe dream, “We were involved in Mozambique, spreading the Aids virus through medical conditions.”

The film also revealed the SAIMR organization was riddled with allegations and mysterious murders of members who had allegedly threatened to testify.

A marine biologist, Dagmar Feil was recruited for the program’s research and had approached her brother about her concerns prior to her mysterious murder outside her home in 1990.

“She sat with me and said she thinks they are going to kill her,” her brother, Karl Feil, told the pair of filmmakers, adding that she mentioned four other team members had been murdered.

“The topic of Aids research came up several times, quite loosely in conversations, I never put two and two together. She was recruited to do medical research,” he says. “She progressed and she became part of the inner circle for operations. She went to Mozambique to fulfill her obligations and … word got out that she was going to testify.”

Her parents turned to South Africa’s truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the tragic death. After a goose chase and numerous false confessions, Feil’s murder was filed away and dismissed as a cold case, leaving the mystery unsolved.

  • Countries: Africa

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