General Magnus Malan, who in the 1980s was the most powerful man in South Africa after apartheid state president PW Botha, was a paedophile who took part in sex orgies with young boys during “fishing excursions” on Bird Island near Port Elizabeth.
This stunning allegation against the former minister of defence is made in the book, The Lost Boys of Bird Island, which hits the shelves today.
The book was written by former narcotics branch policeman Mark Minnie and investigative journalist Chris Steyn.
The writers say another prominent minister, who was at that time viewed as “a possible presidential candidate” was also part of the Malan paedophile ring.
Unlike Malan – who died aged 81 of a heart attack in 2001 – this minister is still alive.
His name is being withheld in the book on legal advice.
Magnus Malan, the apartheid minister of defence, preyed on young boys who called him a ‘cruel uncle’ and nicknamed him ‘Ears’.
For more than 30 years and completely independently of each other, Minnie from Port Elizabeth and Steyn from Cape Town had been investigating allegations of paedophiles in the upper echelons of the National Party.
Powerful players in their respective organisations ensured that their efforts came to naught.
But now, three decades later, the two are telling their stories in The Lost Boys of Bird Island.
The common denominator that brought the paedophile ring to light was two strange and sensational “suicides” early in 1987.
The bodies of Dave Allen (37), a well-known and wealthy unmarried Port Elizabeth businessman and police reservist, and John Wiley (60), a National Party minister, were found within weeks of each other with bullet wounds to the head.
Wiley, a good friend of Malan, was married and lived in Cape Town. Wiley and Allen had been close friends since 1977.
John Wiley and Magnus Malan with PW Botha
Among the writers’ shocking revelations are that:
• The boys, who were mostly coloured and in their early teens, were – with Malan, Wiley and Allen – flown to Bird Island in helicopters belonging to the then SA Defence Force (SADF). Once there, they would be plied with braaied meat and alcohol, after which they were sexually abused by the men;
• On one such occasion, a pistol was allegedly inserted into the anus of one of the boys. A shot was fired – their sources say by Malan – and the critically injured boy was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Port Elizabeth;
• Men in suits stood guard while the coloured child was secretly treated in the white side of the government hospital. His family and the hospital matron were paid for their silence. ;
• Malan was described as an especially “cruel uncle” by the boys, who called him “Ears” because of his prominent ears;
• Apart from Bird Island, the paedophile ring of senior National Party officials also took boys to Allen’s luxurious house in Schoenmakerskop near Port Elizabeth and to a beach house in Witelsbos in the Tsitsikamma forest, 82km west of Jefferys Bay; and
• According to Steyn’s sources, which included two army agents and a retired policeman, Malan was the “most likely contractor” of the hitmen who murdered Wiley and Allen. One of the sources claimed that the third minister who was “seen as a possible presidential candidate” should not be overlooked for his role in the deaths.
Minnie carefully compiled a file – including statements and tape recordings – to take Malan to court.
But this file was removed from his office one day without his knowledge by a “Brigadier Schnetler” and “two highly placed officers from head office in Pretoria”.
Minnie did not get it back and his investigation was scuppered.
But even before the file was taken, the chief state prosecutor in Port Elizabeth warned Minnie in “fat red letters” written on the docket: “Any investigation into this matter should be discontinued immediately.” Signed: “John Scott.”
Minnie, then a warrant officer, continued his investigation in secret. He later resigned and started working undercover as a paid police informant. Eventually, he left the police.
The former policeman reveals a deep personal secret in the book – that he was raped at the age of 12 by 16-year-old twin brothers.
This was, he says, what drove him to write the book about the paedophile ministers, despite interference from on high, threats and an attempt on his life.
Minnie identified Allen as the kingpin of the paedophile ring, thanks to information he received from a young white boy who was also hospitalised with injuries to his lower body.
The day Allen died, he was due to appear in the magistrates’ court. Minnie had arrested him in his home in Schoenmakerskop the previous day.
After arresting Allen, Minnie drove him in his car to a police station to register a case of sex with minors – statutory rape – and possession of child pornography.
During the ride Allen, he wrote, “sang like a canary”.
“And then he drops a bombshell: he mentions a name. And not just any name, but the name of a very powerful Cabinet minister. I’m taken aback, then he names two more Cabinet ministers. He threatens to open the whole can of worms. Is this guy for real? He’s clearly not prepared to take the fall on his own,” writes Minnie.
“He offers me a bribe to make everything go away; R100 000 to be precise.”
When Allen was not in the magistrate’s court at 09:00 the next day, a warrant for his arrest was issued.
A shocked Minnie later found out from a colleague that Allen was found on the beach at Schoenmakerskop with a bullet wound to the forehead.
His Walther Parabellum PPK pistol, a pistol with a powerful recoil, was still in his hand, according to the person who discovered his body.
There were no gunpowder burns on the skin around the wound.
Wiley, the minister of environmental affairs, and bosom friend of Malan, was found dead in his house in Noordhoek, Cape Town, with a bullet wound to the right temple a few weeks later.
Steyn writes: “Paedophiles, extortion, an imminent Cabinet scandal of epic proportions and the urgent need to protect certain famous politicians played a role in Dave Allen’s and John Wiley’s deaths.”
Both Allen’s and Wiley’s inquests ruled out foul play. But Minnie and Steyn believe a lot of contradictions and conflicting evidence indicate assassinations carried out to make them look like suicides.
Steyn believes members of a security branch, such as the former Civil Cooperation Bureau of the SADF, were the hitmen.
After Wiley’s mysterious death shortly after Allen’s, Steyn investigated the cases and the connection between them for seven weeks. But her newspaper, the Cape Times, was lukewarm about the story and her reports were significantly watered down.
Before writing the book, Steyn and Minnie’s paths crossed fleetingly in Port Elizabeth in 1987 when Minnie was a member of the police’s narcotics bureau. Sparks flew.
As part of her investigation into the two suicides, Steyn went to Port Elizabeth where she met Minnie in the Elizabeth Hotel.
According to a former Cape Times colleague, Steyn was an “extremely meticulous, determined journalist who wore high heels and carried a briefcase”.
She thought she was making progress with Minnie when she mentioned the name of the “most senior Cabinet member” who was allegedly involved in the paedophile ring.
Minnie, who was called Max by his colleagues, after Mad Max, was a hard drinker who didn’t shy away from bloody bar brawls. He jumped up and, before storming out in fury, spat: “F*** off you b***h. Are you trying to get me killed?”
He didn’t trust her one bit and suspected she was working for the security police. It was only while the book was being written that Steyn learnt that Minnie ordered police snipers to “take her out” if he died an unnatural death.
Last year Steyn learnt from the publishers of The Lost Boys of Bird Island that Minnie was writing a book about his investigation. Minnie asked her for forgiveness for his behaviour with a note and flowers.
Minnie emigrated in 2007 at the age of 47 to start a new career. He is teaching English in China.
Steyn, who also worked for the Rand Daily Mail and The Star newspapers, is the co-owner and manager of a bookshop in a coastal town.
“This book is the voice the victims never had,” she said on Friday. “This book is their truth that they could never tell. It is the justice they never saw.”
Minnie said: “Shock accusations of this kind against prominent people initially sound incredible. Over time it degenerates into a conspiracy theory. We wanted to prevent that from happening.”
He is calling on all those with information about what happened and how it was covered up to come forward, even anonymously, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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