East Cape News (Grahamstown)

24 October 2001

South Africa: Personal Vendetta Blamed for Grahamstown Anthrax Scares

Grahamstown — A personal vendetta was blamed for anthrax letter scares at two co-owned businesses in Grahamstown yesterday afternoon.

Two addressed envelopes containing palm-full amounts of a mystery white powder were received at the popular Fruit & Veg City off Church Square and Marvics fruit and vegetable wholesalers in Beaufort Street near the Grahamstown police station.

Co-owner of both businesses, Thomas Stone, said he had a "very good idea" who was behind the attacks but declined to say more.

He said a criminal investigation was underway but declined to say more.

He said he was called soon after lunch by his Fruit & Veg City

manager Dudley Sparg after he opened a brown envelope addressed to him and found a white powder in a folded piece of paper.

Stone immediately called the police who rushed to the scene with the fire department.

Stone said no sooner had he rushed from Marvics to Fruit & Veg City, when his mother, Mrs Mary Stone, called saying she had also just received an identical envelope addressed to her but had not opened it.

Sparg said he found about "a palm-full" of a fine white powder in the sheet.

He immediately put the paper down and called Stone.

Stone said the Grahamstown murder and robbery unit and the fire department arrived within minutes.

Waste-tech employees donned white bioterror suits outside the building before going into Sparg's office and bagging the powder and envelope.

He said they then disinfected the office with a substance "like bleach".

He said the police and fire department then went to Marvics Fruit &

Veg and fetched the unopened envelope that Mrs Mary Stone had received.

Sparg said: "It doesn't feel very good. If it is a hoax it is really stupid. It is not needed."

He said his name was written on the envelope in an untidy scrawl.

"It looked as if they were using the wrong hand to write with."

He said it had a licked stamp on it and a Port Elizabeth postmark.

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