Fresh evidence in Bird Island scandal, says author Chris Steyn

Durban – Investigative journalist Chris Steyn’s battle for more information about allegations of paedophilia by apartheid-era leaders is far from over.

The co-author of the controversial book, The Lost Boys of Bird Island, who is expected in Durban to attend the Articulate Africa Book and Art Fair next week, said that seven months after it hit the shelves, she was still receiving leads that would strengthen her case.

“I only recently spoke to somebody with corroborating information on the operation performed on the boy who was anally injured,” she said, referring to the chilling story of former defence minister Magnus Malan allegedly inserting a gun up a boy’s anus and discharging it.

This time around, Steyn is more interested in working with a police investigation than penning it all in another book.

“While I can’t force people to make statements to the police, I do feel that a proper investigation has a bigger potential for justice than another book,” she said in an interview with the Independent on Saturday.

“Also, I do not have the resources the police have. I have also had to fund my own investigation, pre- and post-publication. In one case, I had to fly somebody to Durban to pick up a file a source refused to send by courier.”

The book tells the story of “fishing excursions” organised by the late Malan, wealthy businessman Dave Allen – who killed himself at the age of 37 – and National Party environmental affairs minister John Wiley – who also committed suicide at age 80, just weeks after Allen was found dead with a similar gunshot wound to the head.

The book details how Malan, Wiley, Allen and another former apartheid-era minister, who is still alive, ferried young boys to Bird Island near Port Elizabeth where the minors were raped and forced to perform other sexual acts on them.

Steyn said although decades had passed since the 1980s, she often felt she was back in that era.

“Some people are still too scared to talk after all these years. Some are hostile.

“However, I have identified a couple of possible victims since the publication of the book.

“Among those who have come forward are people who partied at Dave Allen’s house and did work on Bird Island.”

Steyn said the death of her co-author, Mark Minnie, created major setbacks. He was found shot dead on a friend’s smallholding at Theescombe, near Port Elizabeth, in August, only days before the official launch of the book. His death has been put down to suicide.

109551325 - Fresh evidence in Bird Island scandal, says author Chris Steyn

Minnie had been a policeman investigating the allegations before the docket was removed with orders from above, reportedly with the knowledge of then-president PW Botha.

Steyn said there was a possibility that he had been pressured into taking his own life.

“That is just one possibility, but sadly I am no closer to finding the answers we so desperately need.”

She said efforts to discredit the book had scared off some people.

“Repeated attacks on the book have made some people wary.”

Steyn also said there were people who did not trust the police. 

“But, seven months after publication of the book, I am still getting leads.”

In spite of threats, Steyn said she does not live in fear.

“One expects rage and outrage. People will want to discredit and destroy you. I don’t live in fear.”

She said she hoped the book would increase awareness on the issue of paedophilia. “Many people don’t want to believe that apparently respectable people are capable of it. This leaves children unprotected from predators – and victims disbelieved.

"I would like to see educational campaigns on grooming tactics paedophiles use on children and the parents of those children.”


Independent On Saturday

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