Africa, Clear Continent

How the Church of Scientology has tried to "win" South Africa


"All men shall be my slaves!
All women shall submit to my charms!
All mankind shall grovel at my feet and not know why!"

[L. Ron Hubbard, "Affirmations", late 1940s]


Just under forty years ago, the Church of Scientology - a highly controversial religious movement (or cult or pseudo-science, depending on to whom you speak) founded by the late American science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard - began to expand into South Africa. It now has branches (or "orgs") in nine cities and a claimed South African membership of 200,000. Although this figure is of course greatly exaggerated, its worldwide organisation and huge assets make it an organisation with some weight.

Almost since its arrival in Johannesburg in 1957, Scientology has been involved in South African social affairs. This is not too unusual for a religion - missionaries have played a major part in the development of African societies over the past 150 years or so. It is, however, distinctly unusual to find the founder of a religion (Hubbard in this instance) calling the needy "humanoids who just aren't trying", declaring:

"Welfare States are run for victims, think only about victims and create only victims... Welfarism is a psychotic mental disease born out of a guilty conscience and conducted only for the victim by those that try to make victims."

[LRH, Ability magazine issue 146]

It is even more unusual to find that despite expressing these views to insiders, the same founder and the same religion make noisy efforts ostensibly to promote the welfare of the needy.

All of the above is perhaps rather less unusual when one considers Scientology's overall goal. This is expressed as the desire to subject the world's population to Scientology processing in pursuit of the long term aim of "clearing the planet". Although the world does not appear to be in any immediate danger of this happening, the Church of Scientology has made strenuous efforts to create "a safe environment for Scientology". After the Australians declined the honour of becoming "the world's first Clear Continent" (three of the six Australian states banned Scientology in 1965), Hubbard decided that the peoples of southern Africa - Rhodesia (as it then was) and South Africa - should fall under his sway. His attempts to ingratiate himself with the politicians and philosophy of white supremacy in the two countries is documented elsewhere, in Scientology's Fight for Apartheid. This article considers Scientology's past and present attempts to infiltrate South African society in general.

Three Feet Behind Society's Head

One of the Church of Scientology's declared aims is "to make the able more able". This has inevitably led it to concentrate its efforts on recruiting "the able" - those who are in positions of authority or affluence, such as actors, musicians, politicians, doctors, teachers and so on. Scientology has recruited such disparate figures as the actors John Travolta, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman; musician Chick Corea; writer William S. Burroughs; British Conservative MPs; the mayors of Russian cities such as Perm; business executives at Cyanamid and other companies; and generals in the Colombian military. (Hubbard even proposed approaching Winston Churchill, but Churchill does not appear to have been persuaded) Such people have two major assets - deep pockets and the status to encourage others to enter Scientology.

As early as the late 1950s, Hubbard had evidently realised that the support of such people was vital if Scientology was to expand into everyday society. He appears to have been convinced that only with Scientology could people succeed:

"A housewife who does not have professional level skill in Scientology could not expect to run a wholly successful family or keep order in her neighborhood and keep her family well. A factory foreman could not possibly handle his crews with full effectiveness without professional Scientology skill. The personal assistant to a corporation executive could not do a fully effective job without being a professional Scientologist. A corporation president without a [Scientology] certificate will someday fail. And the head of a country would go to pieces if he didn't know Scientology from the pro angle."

[LRH, "What We Expect Of A Scientologist", Ability magazine issue 136]

Scientologists, Hubbard said, were vastly superior to the rest of society - "we're three feet behand society's head", as he put it in rather obscure fashion. Hubbard's writings frequently refer to Scientologists as examples of homo novus, an entirely new type of man, compared to the plodding herds of mentally diseased homo sapiens - "homo sap" for short, with the emphasis on "sap". But so deranged was "homo sap" that he did not immediately recognise the benefits of Scientology. How, therefore, was Ron's "technology" to be propagated?

Two routes were adopted:

  1. Individual Scientologists were to enter groups and organisations and take them over, converting the group's organisation and worldview to a Scientological one but without telling anyone of the real goal.

  2. Influential people were to be approached by Scientology "front groups", their links with the Church of Scientology concealed, to offer "revolutionary new techniques" (Scientology processing under another name) to cure problems ranging from manpower shortages to crime and drug addiction.
The second method is still in use and has been employed extensively in South Africa, the USA and various other countries; the first method has been used extensively but evidence for its continued usage is (not surprisingly) sketchy.

1. Zoning Society

The first route was proposed by Hubbard in 1960 in a bulletin (HCO Bulletin, 23 June 1960) addressed to executives at the Johannesburg offices of Scientology, and was subsequently reprinted for the benefit of South African Scientologists in general in issue 27 of their magazine Understanding. Entitled "The Special Zone Plan", it gave detailed instructions on how to infiltrate and convert groups and organisations to Scientological methods without their knowledge - a very different thing from normal missionary proselytising. Although it was originally devised as a means of "expanding" into South African society, the plan was also distributed to Scientologists around the world in Ability and other Scientology magazines. It seems certain that the Special Zone Plan has been used, though whether it is still in use is unknown.

It is a leitmotif of Scientology that society is sick and diseased (or "aberrated") and that all governments are insane. (After all, who in their right minds would want to criticise something as pure and good as Scientology?). All is not lost, though:

"We are masters of IQ and ability. We have know how. Any of us could select out a zone of life in which we are interested and then, entering it, bring order and victory to it."

[LRH, "The Special Zone Plan", Understanding issue 27, 1960]

It hardly needs to be said that Hubbard is talking about "order and victory" on Scientology's terms. But what did he mean by "entering a zone of life"?

The Special Zone Plan divides life into eight zones, corresponding to the eight "dynamics" of Scientology: self, family, people, Mankind and so on. In his bulletin, Hubbard announced that Scientology had triumphed in zones one, two, five, six, seven and eight; for instance, regarding number six, the physical universe, "we have for some time stood well above what they know in physics". Zones three and four - people and Mankind - still remained a major problem, as society was hurtling towards imminent catastrophe (then nuclear war, now crime and drugs) which only Scientology could avert. Society, in short, is sick. But Scientologists, said Hubbard, "should, I feel, consider themselves as "doctors" on the third and fourth dynamics". Scientology should therefore make efforts to "cure" society.

So far, this is not radically dissimilar from the philosophy of the first European missionaries in Africa. What is different, though, is that Hubbard made it explicitly clear that it should be done in secret:

"The cue in all this is, don't seek the co-operation of groups. Don't ask for permission. Just enter them and start functioning to make the group win through effectiveness and sanity."

[LRH, "The Special Zone Plan", Understanding issue 27, 1960]

This brings irresistibly to mind one of the "Affirmations" quoted earlier - "All mankind shall grovel at my feet and not know why!". It also raises an interesting question: as the Church of Scientology is vehemently opposed to the involuntary treatment of mental patients, why was its founder apparently in favour of the involuntary "treatment" of society in general?

Hubbard's comments on the Special Zone Plan appear to acknowledge that even then, Scientology seems to have had a rather dubious reputation. Hubbard gave an example of how disseminating Scientology in secret worked rather better than trying actively to sell it:

"Take the case of a police officer who ... tried to "sell" his chief on Scientology and was given a heavy loss... we [should] have made this police officer get professional training before letting him "sell Scientology" to the force, and then would have advised him to sell it by action, not words. Handling the familial problems of the Commissioner as his driver, or making the rookies gasp at how fast he could train them would be selling by action only. And no other kind of selling would be needed ... How long before he had altered the whole character, ability and effectiveness of the police force?"

[LRH, "The Special Zone Plan", Understanding issue 27, 1960]

Similarly, for a company:
"A Scientologist ... trains as a professional auditor and, seeing where the company is heading, begins to pick up its loose end by straightening its communication lines or its personnel abilities. Without "selling" anybody Scientology, just studies out the bogs [sic] and remedies them. If only as "an able person" he would rapidly expand a zone of control."

[LRH, "The Special Zone Plan", Understanding issue 27, 1960]

And likewise for a political party or government organisation:
"A race is staggering along making difficulties for itself. Locate its leaders. Get a paid post as a sercetary [sic] or officer of the staff of the leaders of that race ... Don't bother to get elected. Get a job on the secretarial staff or the bodyguard, use any talent one has to get close in, go to work on the environment and make it function better."

[LRH, "The Special Zone Plan", Understanding issue 27, 1960]

The latter has certainly happened. In the late 1970s it was discovered that Scientologists working on the orders of Hubbard and his wife had infiltrated US Government agencies such as the Department of Justice and the Inland Revenue Service and were stealing tens of thousands of government documents on Scientology. Hubbard's wife and 11 other senior Scientologists were imprisoned and Hubbard himself, named as an "unindicted co-conspirator", fled into hiding for the last six years of his life. It has been alleged that something similar has happened in the U.K. and in Greece, and it is probable that Scientology continues to maintain "sleepers" within the South African Government as well. As we shall see a little later, it is possible that South African political parties (notably the Inkatha Freedom Party) have been infiltrated for some time.

Hubbard appears to have been well aware of the potentially controversial nature of his plan - "if we were revolutionaries, this bulletin would be a very dangerous document". Lest his followers consider such underhand tactics unethical or even illegal (as the US Government did), Hubbard warns, with typical compassion, that:

"Only the very criminal would object and they are relatively ineffectual when you know and can spot them. And there are no criminals except the mentally disabled."

[LRH, "The Special Zone Plan", Understanding issue 27, 1960]

And of course, the mentally disabled have no place in Scientology.

Expand with Ron

Back in the late 1950s, Hubbard devised a strategy for expansion in South Africa which was subsequently used in other countries with a Scientology presence. It set out the following goals:
  1. Get Scientology known.
  2. Get Scientology established in schools.
  3. Get Scientology established in the universities.
  4. Have Scientology established in industries.
  5. Have Scientology in the mines.
  6. Get Scientology "into the government and government departments and services."
[from Ability Major magazine, issue 2]
This pattern has been followed, or at least attempted, in many countries in which Scientology is active. South Africa is no exception.

The Church of Scientology has been involved in South African affairs on a number of distinct levels. The most fundamental is that of recruitment. Hubbard made it clear, time and again, that the goal of every Scientologist should be to get "bodies into Orgs" (Scientology offices). "Recruit until the floor caves in", he wrote in one of his endless series of bulletins, "and don't stop even then". This is the first objective of any Scientology organisation. It should be borne in mind that every activity undertaken by Scientology and its associates, even such apparently innocuous things as rehabilitating drug addicts and helping to educate schoolchildren, is directed towards the ultimate goal of getting as many new recruits as possible. More on this later.

It goes without saying that South Africa has more social problems than most countries. Because of its rather awkward problem of having a membership who were apparently generally supportive of racial discrimination, the Church has had to do something of a juggling act in addressing the problems caused by apartheid without actually mentioning apartheid itself. The Church now, of course, claims to have been opposed to apartheid all along - an untruthful claim, as my previous article on Scientology's support for the apartheid régime shows.

The Church of Scientology has long sought to extend its influence in three specific areas, namely education, business and to some extent medicine. This is not confined merely to South Africa but is general Church policy, implemented wherever possible across the world. Activities in each of these areas has one specific end objective: to get Scientology accepted in society at large and so increase the pool of potential recruits. It should not be supposed that such a goal is unique to Scientology - after all, religious schools and social outreach projects have existed for centuries for the express purpose of spreading whichever religion it may be. What makes Scientology somewhat unusual, however, is that it is strangely reluctant to advertise its involvement. The four main Scientology "front groups" active in South Africa are:

Only the last, WISE - World Institute of Scientology Enterprises - makes its links explicitly clear, though it tends to operate through "disguised" front groups. The others do not advertise their Scientology connections, though if pressed, they will accept that they are funded by Scientology and staffed by Scientologists. The following shows their declared and actual goals:

All of the above operate in South Africa. Education Alive in particular is claimed to have educated "2 million" underprivileged black schoolchildren, under the supervision of Scientology umbrella organisation the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE). This claim, in the 1992 edition of What Is Scientology? and in a venomous pamphlet entitled The Story Time couldn't tell from 1990, has been comprehensively rejected by the Ministry of Education. There is evidence that Scientology "technology" has been taught to children in state schools, though this does not appear to have occurred on a particularly wide scale. Issue 2 of the Scientology magazine The Winner reported:

"Soweto, famous South African "trouble spot" is receiving Education Alive's helping hand. The township's mayor and councilmen recently completed a tremendous successful [sic] study course, with far-reaching effects.

They have requested their own study course group to train Soweto's clerical workers and teachers to improve their literacy and job efficiency."

[The Winner, issue 2, page 3]

The description of Soweto as a "famous South African trouble spot" contrasts rather oddly to L. Ron Hubbard's earlier description of the township as an "impressive and adequate" place. The fact that he described the place in such glowing terms may have had something to do with the fact that he delivered that opinion in a letter to the late H. F. Verwoerd, Prime Minister of South Africa and one of the architects of apartheid. The Church has acknowledged the problems caused by apartheid in public, but in private its leader and founder described apartheid's victims variously as "barbaric", "retrograded" [sic] and examples of "a no-civilization".

Other Scientology projects have similarly tried (at least on the surface) to help those made needy and disadvantaged by apartheid. The value of some of the Church's projects is open to question - for instance, giving "touch assists" (a Scientological version of "laying on healing hands") and emetics to mentally handicapped blacks, a project lauded in issue 8 of the Scientology magazine The Winner. Precisely what giving emetics to mentally handicapped blacks was supposed to achieve is not particularly clear.

The Church has tried, or at least has claimed to have tried, to improve the conditions of the mentally handicapped in South Africa in other ways. The Spring 1995 edition of Scientology Today carried an article entitled "CCHR: In the Forefront of Human Rights", and is about CCHR's annual anniversary event at the Celebrity Centre International in February 1995. It states:

"Jan Eastgate [identified earlier as CCHR International President] spoke of psychiatric atrocities uncovered in South Africa. In 1976, Freedom [magazine] and CCHR were the first to expose appalling psychiatric "slave labor" camps, in which 10,000 black patients were kept in degraded conditions with the majority sleeping on mats on concrete floors. Electric shock was administered without anesthetic - to black inmates only. After the exposes, the suppressive apartheid government issued decrees forbidding further exposure of such acts. All that has changed now, and the new government has thrown open the door to investigate these abuses.

Eastgate also briefed the attendees on her recent visit to South Africa, where she worked with the new political leadership to investigate and help bring to justice those responsible for abuses in that country and ensure they never happen again. Information brought to light as a result of her trip showed that between 1975 and 1989, 1,451 women, many of them between 10 and 19 years of age, had been sterilized at the hands of South African psychiatrists". [Scientology Today, Spring 1995, p. 7]

CCHR, the Citizens' Commission on Human Rights (funded and run by Scientologists), ostensibly campaigns for psychiatric reform but in reality continues the campaign of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard for the complete destruction of psychological medicine. (By the late 1970s Hubbard was telling colleagues that psychiatrists were actually evil space aliens bent on enslaving mankind with "pain and sex".) It is a staple of CCHR/Scientology's campaigns to attribute hideous atrocities to psychiatry - in the 1960s and early 1970s, before a lawsuit for defamation put paid to it, a campaign ran which alleged that British ministers were running a "new Belsen" outside the cathedral city of Ely. It has to be said that in South Africa CCHR/Scientology was, for once, correct in describing psychiatric practices as atrocious. However, a source points out the following facts regarding CCHR/Scientology's claims to have singlehandedly exposed those abuses:
"In 1976, we had the infamous Soweto riots, where all those children were killed. The atrocities in the mental hospitals weren't even an issue, much less exposed by CCHR. This is pure PR posturing - difficult to disprove, because there are no official records of those things.

Jan Eastgate ... made a trip to SA a while ago. THIS was the attempt to get a foot into the Inkatha Freedom Party, which was later followed by WISE. NOT the ANC, or any other party. [More on this in a moment.]

Those women may have been sterilized, yes. But Jan did *not* work with our new political leadership (hah!), and Scientology was VERY quiet during the Apartheid years - they NEVER ONCE made any statement that they believed apartheid was wrong."

WISE has also been active in trying to influence South African business. They are, rather more than most Scientology front groups, relatively open about their connections with the Church. This makes it especially intriguing that the Inkatha Freedom Party of Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi should turn to a WISE affiliate for advice in the run-up to the 1994 elections. The party appears to have gone into the elections with Hubbard's "management technology" in active use.

The Johannesburg newspaper The Weekly Mail and Guardian conducted an investigation into the links between the IFP and the Church of Scientology in October-November 1994. On November 4 1994, it ran the following story:

IFP's curious Scientology friends

A business consultancy linked to the Scientology movement advised IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, report Stefaans Brummer and Farouk Chothia

FOLLOWERS of Scientology -- the highly controversial American "religion" -- have been courting Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his Inkatha Freedom Party.

The IFP, which is well-known for its reliance on outsiders for political and organisational advice, contracted a Johannesburg close corporation, Businesswise Management Consultants -- described by a scientologist source as a "Scientology front" -- before the elections to help with the administrative restructuring of the party.

Businesswise was brought to the IFP last year on the recommendation of Natal businessman Laurence Anthony, a close associate and advisor of Buthelezi. Anthony on Thursday confirmed he had "studied Scientology" but denied it was "a big spook". He said Businesswise had worked with him until April 27 in "evolving an organisational plan" for the IFP, and that he still provided a "business service" to the party free of charge.

Anthony said some IFP leaders, including secretary general Ziba Jiyane, were aware of his Scientology links. "They have no problem with it."

He described it as "patent nonsense" that Scientology groups operate "deviously".

Businesswise is licenced by the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (Wise) International to "disseminate administrative technology" developed by the founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard.

Trademarks used by Wise International are held by the Religious Technology Centre (RTC) which, according to Scientology literature, "is the protector of the Scientology religion ... The purpose of RTC is to safeguard the proper use of trademarks, to protect the public and to make sure that the powerful technology of Dianetics and Scientology remains in good hands and is properly used".

Businesswise executive director Alan Murray this week denied his company had "anything to do with Scientology", but acknowledged: "If you want to be devious you can say there is a connection."

He said Businesswise was franchised by Wise International to deliver a management system developed by Hubbard, but that Hubbard wrote widely on matters other than religion. "It is just a regular management system used right across the world."

Scientology literature makes it clear, however, that Businesswise was set up by Scientologists in South Africa. A document quotes Johannesburg Scientology "patron" Earnest Corbett as saying: "I have helped to start a successful Wise group, a U-Man group and a field auditing practice -- all of which are doing splendidly."

Scientology "patrons" such as Corbett are described as "special public individuals who have greatly assisted the International Association of Scientologists by making contributions to its `war chest'. This war chest is used for projects that guarantee the future of the Scientology religion on this planet and which advance Scientology through broad dissemination."

Mail & Guardian investigations have determined that Businesswise earlier shared a business address with Corbett, and that U-Man South Africa, also franchised by Scientology, still shares an office with Businesswise -- a clear indication that Businesswise is the "Wise group" Corbett is quoted to have helped establish.

Murray said Businesswise had made contact with the IFP last year through Anthony and senior IFP figures including MZ Khumalo (of Inkathagate fame) and Jiyane.

He said Businesswise had a six-month contract with the party, ending shortly before the elections, to help restructure their administrative structures. He said he was still "very interested in how they are progressing".

Meanwhile, in a recent International Association of Scientologists video transmitted via satellite to all Scientology "orgs" -- jargon for organisations -- David Miscavige, successor to Hubbard, boasts that "we have been working in South Africa with Minister Buthelezi to get LRH (L Ron Hubbard) tech (jargon for the Scientology philosophy) in", said a Scientology source.

Miscavige stated that "as a result of this, Buthelezi has now made calls for investigations into mental institutions, and the war against the psychs (jargon for psychology and psychiatry) in South Africa has begun", the source said.

The IFP last month called for a commission of inquiry into mental institutions, and for the 1976 Mental Health Act, which prohibits transparency in mental institutions, to be scrapped.

Scientologists are avid opponents of traditional psychiatry and psychology practices. A Scientology document states: "Germany is the birthplace of psychiatry and psychology, practices diametrically opposed to that of Scientology." It says a 1973 mental health programme in Germany was "countered" by Scientologists "with the exposure of inhumane activities and psychiatric crimes".

Both Anthony and Murray denied the push for an inquiry into mental institutions had originated with them, saying it had come from IFP branches.

Scientology is premised on the system of "auditing", by which adherents are "cleared" of unhappiness. Detractors charge it is nothing more than "brainwashing" and point out that intimate secrets of followers are revealed in the process -- which makes it difficult for them to leave the organisation.

The Church of Scientology has been involved in numerous law suits in the United States. It is currently suing Time magazine for a 1991 article, "The thriving cult of greed and power". In the 1980s 11 top Scientologists, including Hubbard's wife, were jailed for infiltrating, burgling and wire tapping more than 100 private and government agencies in attempts to block their investigations.

[Weekly Mail and Guardian, Johannesburg, Nov 4 1994]

As the article makes clear, claiming that certain types of Hubbard "technology" are secular is patent nonsense: they were devised for Scientology, are used within Scientology, are disseminated by Scientology and resultant profits are ploughed back into Scientology. The whole purpose of so-called "secular technology" is to raise funds for Scientology and prepare the ground for its expansion.

It should be noted that this does not necessarily mean that the Church of Scientology has a direct influence on the IFP. Hubbard's "Special Zone Plan", however, makes it clear that the purpose of developing such links is precisely so that Scientology can have a direct influence over political affairs. Whether this has happened in the case of the IFP can only be guessed at.

The "scientology source" cited in the Weekly Mail and Guardian story was tracked down and confronted by agents of the Scientology secret police, the Office of Special Affairs (formerly the Guardian's Office, the department responsible for the infiltration of government agencies alluded to at the end of the story). She subsequently wrote a letter to the Weekly Mail and Guardian regretting the fact that the paper had linked the IFP's campaign against psychiatric abuses with Scientology's rabid campaign against mental health practitioners in general. Although the IFP's efforts in this regard should definitely be commended, she may have been wrong in claiming that there was no link, for my own investigations have revealed that the IFP and Scientology have had links going back at least 16 years. Inkatha - once described, rather amusingly, as "an African tribe" (obviously some careful research at work there) - is virtually unique in being the only South African political movement with which the Church of Scientology has advertised its involvement. A cynic might say, of course, that Inkatha gave the Scientologists the appearance of being opposed to apartheid without risking getting into trouble with the régime. The accusation that Inkatha were "the Nationalists' favourite blacks" was graphically proved correct in the eyes of many in 1994 when Judge Richard Goldstone reported on the so-called "third force" said to be fueling political violence. The judge confirmed that the security forces had secretly trained, armed and funded Inkatha "hit squads" in the fight against the ANC and PAC.

A number of internal Scientology magazines and documents from the 1970s and 1980s mention contacts with Inkatha and Chief Buthelezi. One of the more intriguing examples is the article "Inroads into Africa", published in issue 10 of The Winner. Published in 1980, it describes an Inkatha rally which a senior Scientology official was invited to address:

"The Assistant Guardian for Johannesburg was invited to attend a rally addressed by the Chief of the Zulus, Chief Catcha Buthelezi. The rally was held in the main Soweto stadium on the 1st of February [1980], and was attended by between 20,000 - 30,000 people.

At the head of the stadium sat the dignitaries which included a number of members of the Kwazulu Cabinet; the Mayor of Soweto; members of the Inkatha (an African tribe) executive and AG [Assistant Guardian] Jo'burg with an umbrella above her for shade!

Chief Buthelezi discussed the role of the Zulu in South African affairs, and the need for Blacks to continue to demand their rights.

It was announced at the rally that the Church of Scientology was in attendance and applause rose from the audience. Quite a spine-tingling experience!


A black Volunteer Minister who is also a Herbalist, was inaugurated into a Zulu tribal assembly, which controls over 6,000 Zulus, and is directly under the Zulu leader Chief Buthelezi. At the inaugural speech the Volunteer Minister told the audience of 6000 of the value of Ron's study technology and that he had lots of knowledge from Ron to bring to them!

And he sure was telling the truth! There is a lot of Ron's knowledge to be shared with the societies of this world!"

[The Winner, issue 10, page 7]

I wonder if the Scientology representatives at that rally told the crowd that only a few years previously their organisation had actively worked for the suppression of black rights? The fact that senior Scientologists attended a rally in support of black civil rights would also seem to be a violation of the Church's supposed apolitical stance. More interestingly, I wonder what happened to that Volunteer Minister? What position does he now hold within Inkatha?


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Last updated 2 February 1997
by Chris Owen (chriso@lutefisk.demon.co.uk)