Lawyers for former ministers say 'Bird Island' book was a web of lies

04 March 2020 - 15:48 By ERNEST MABUZA
Chris Steyn, right, at a book signing for her book 'The Lost Boys of Bird Island'. The publishers have withdrawn unsold copies of the controversial book.
Chris Steyn, right, at a book signing for her book 'The Lost Boys of Bird Island'. The publishers have withdrawn unsold copies of the controversial book.
Image: Anthony Molyneaux

The non-fiction book The Lost Boys of Bird Island was nothing but a fabrication and a web of lies weaved by its co-authors, Mark Minnie and Chris Steyn.

This allegation was made by lawyers acting on behalf of three apartheid-era ministers, only one of whom is still alive, following an announcement by NB Publishers that it had withdrawn the book which exposed a paedophilia ring allegedly run by apartheid-era politicians.

The publishers conceded in a statement that the surviving minister, Barend du Plessis, could have been erroneously linked to the book.

Minnie killed himself at a friend’s farm in the Eastern Cape in 2018.

In reaction to the retraction, lawyers for the ministers said there had been no evidence whatsoever from any of the many investigations that implicated any of the ministers in the despicable crimes alleged in the book.

The law firm revealed that Minnie, in a telling e-mail to his co-author and editor, advised them that he was bothered by the fact that "we have no concrete evidence to the effect that any of the three ministers sexually molested a victim".

Minnie also allegedly said, "We need a victim to come forward and make an accusation."

The firm said this e-mail was sent three days before the publication of the book.

It said despite not having any form of concrete evidence to prove any of the allegations contained in the book, the two co-authors decided to continue to lie to the public and to twist facts for their own gain.

It said evidence collected clearly confirmed that there was no concrete evidence indicating that any ministers perpetrated any form of paedophilic act, either at Bird Island or elsewhere.

The firm said following the publication of the book, the living minister – in order to save his name – solicited the help of a forensic investigator.

“This investigative work highlighted the lack of proper and substantive research by the author and the publisher.”

The firm said a number of people had come forward to provide irrefutable information that disproved the contents of the book.

“Shortly after publication of the book, the helicopter pilot who was interviewed by Rapport said that due to all the control and flight management issues - which would have had to be overcome to have ferried the parties to and from the island, as was allegedly the case - the logistics would have just made it impossible to do it unnoticed.”

The firm said there were also serious errors of judgment by the co-authors regarding the ministers’ security clearance.

“It is unfathomable that the publisher overlooked the fact that before their appointment and periodically thereafter, the head of state or government subjects potential appointees to intensive background scrutiny.”