The Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) this week sent an agent to Mozambique, allegedly to try and secure the release of former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) pilot, Captain Tino Phuthego.
Phuthego, who in 2006 led the Botswana Defence Force C-130 crew to the Dafur region of Sudan to support the African Union peace keeping mission there, was two weeks ago arrested with three other men in Mozambique on suspicion of trying to sabotage the Cahora Bassa Dam, one of the largest hydro-electric dams in Africa.
The other three were a German soldier and architect, a South African herbalist and a Portuguese hotelier. The quartet was caught with 500 kg of unidentified powder, trying to feed it to the turbines of the dam. The powder, which has been confiscated by Mozambique police officers, was initially believed to be corrosive material designed to damage the Cahora Bassa Dam.
Information, however, started emerging on Friday that, contrary to initial suspicions, the four men are not members of a private terrorist militia but are in fact members of a lunatic fringe group called “Orgonise Africa”. It has also emerged that there was nothing clandestine about this group’s visit to the Cahora Bassa Lake. They advertised it on their Internet websites, where they called the journey “Operation Paradise”.
“Want to come on our next Zambezi expedition, April 2009?” asked one of the men, Georg Ritschi, on an “Orgonise Africa” blog. “Our next big expedition will be the continuation of our last great water gifting effort on the lower Zambezi,” said Ritschi.
The Botswana intelligence services’ interest in the case has, however, sparked speculations that Captain Phuthego, who recently resigned from the Botswana Defence Force, was being recruited to head the DIS air arm. Captain Phuthego is an experienced pilot and had already accumulated more than 900 flying hours three years ago when he led the Botswana Defence Force C-130 crew on a peace keeping mission to Dafur.
The speculation is further fuelled by reports that DIS was in the process of secretly buying an aircraft and is trying to recruit pilots.
The group to which the four men belonged, Orgonise Africa, believes that everything wrong with the planet is due to a lack of orgone. To set matters right, the dedicated followers of the organization engage in “orgone gifting”. This involves dumping “gifts” of a substance called orgonite into the place – in this case, Cahora Bassa Lake – that is to be cured of its orgone deficiency.
Orgonise Africa is a band of dedicated followers of the Austrian psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich, who died in an American jail in 1956. Reich did some valuable work on human sexuality in the early part of his career, but in his later years switched his political allegiance from left to right, and showed signs of mental illness and paranoia.
He claimed that he had discovered a universal form of energy which he called orgone. This energy – undetected by science both then and in the 52 years since Reich’s death – was responsible for everything from the weather to gravity and the formation of galaxies. Reich built machines called orgone accumulators which were supposed to concentrate orgone energy. This would be a good thing since, according to Reich, illness and diseases are caused by insufficient orgone.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) correctly described the orgone accumulators as fraudulent, banned their sale and outlawed all “orgone therapy”. Which is was why, after he defied the injunction obtained by the FDA, Reich ended up in jail.
Reich’s sexual libertarianism, his heterodox scientific and medical theories, and his apparent persecution by US government agencies turned him into something of a father figure for the 1960s “counter-culture”, and for subsequent “New Age” cults. One of these headed by a couple called Don and Carol Croft, spawned Orgonise Africa.
So that is what the four arrested “saboteurs” were doing – heaving lumps of orgonite from a boat into the lake.