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Chapel Sprayed With Suspected Cyanide

June 26, 1989

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ A poisonous liquid believed to contain cyanide was sprayed in a college chapel where a West German government minister was to meet today with leaders of the South African Council of Churches, a college official said.

A West German Embassy official said the toxic substance was discovered before the arrival of Labor Minister Norbert Bluem, and the meeting was held elsewhere at Johannesburg’s St. Barnabas College.

Bluem, the highest-ranking West German to visit South Africa in 10 years, was to meet several officials including the Rev. Frank Chikane. He is general secretary of the South African Council of Churches and recently was hospitalized in the United States for poisoning from a pesticide he said apparently was applied to his luggage before he left South Africa.

Chikane, a prominent black anti-apartheid activist, has had his life threatened in the past, and a limpet mine was found in his mother’s mailbox last year.

In Johannesburg, college principal Michael Corke said ″a toxic and highly noxious liquid″ had been sprayed over the floor, furniture and fittings of the chapel. ″A preliminary examination of the substance made by the head of our science school suggests that it is a cyanide-based insecticide or weed- killer.″

Corke said they had kept samples for police forensic experts.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Madeleine Gericke said, ″This is most regrettable if true.″

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