‘Bird Island’ exposé authors say there’s enough ammo for court
Cape Town - As high-ranking former National Party officials deny any knowledge of the existence of a paedophile ring involving cabinet ministers in the late 1980s, the authors of a shocking exposé are willing to bring out more information in court, if challenged.
Chilling accounts of alleged sexual abuse of coloured teenagers by apartheid government ministers, including former South African Defence Force head Magnus Malan, are recorded in a book, The Lost Boys of Bird Island, which was published this week.
Co-author and investigative journalist Chris Steyn said she had noted the reaction of the family of ring members in the media, but none had as yet threatened to take any legal action against them.
“Not one of them has contacted me. I would welcome court action as it would give us the opportunity to put more information before the court,” Steyn said.
Steyn and former policeman Mark Minnie launched investigations independently of each other into sexual abuse of teenage boys on Bird Island, near Port Elizabeth, allegedly by high-ranking members of former president PW Botha’s cabinet.
They included Malan, former environmental affairs minister John Wiley and former police reservist and businessman Dave Allen.
Wiley and Allen committed suicide in the 1980s and Malan died in 2011.
Minnie said he had no idea what knowledge Botha had with regard to the behaviour of certain of his ministers.
However, he had always suspected that there was official government complicity in a cover-up.
“This is one of the aims of this book. To bring this knowledge to the attention of the public,” he said.
Wiley’s son, Mark, DA chief whip in the Western Cape legislature, refused to comment on the allegations made in the book regarding his father.
“I have not read the book. I do not read fiction. I have no comment to make,” he said.
The book claims that teenage boys were flown by South African Defence Force helicopters to Bird Island, where sex orgies with members of the ring would take place.
One cabinet minister, who the authors have not named, is apparently still alive.
Steyn said her investigations had been sparked by a tip-off following the deaths of Wiley and Allen.
“The discovery that Dave had been arrested for alleged sex acts with minors led to further investigation. I worked on the story for about six weeks in 1987, briefly in 2006 and on and off over the past two years.
“I really did not think about the danger my life was in. I still don’t. If they kill me, it will be a good death and it will just make others more determined to keep digging,” Steyn added.
Minnie said while he had knowledge of how Allen picked his victims, he had never confronted those involved and he had been advised by his brigadier to keep things close to his chest until he had sufficient evidence in order to bring the matter to light.
He also encouraged victims from that era to come forward.
The National Prosecuting Authority said if a docket with evidence linking the ministers to the sex ring was brought forward, it would assess if it was worth prosecuting.
Spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaka said there was no statute of limitations on rape cases.