Stop defending Malan. Start defending his victims
Why are so many more concerned about the discredited general's reputation than about his innumerable victims?
Since last weekend, the name Magnus André de Merindol Malan has filled me with an unease, cold chills. The name of the man who was one of the most feared and influential beings – yes, I have difficulty calling him a human being – as the minister of Defence in the cabinet of die Groot Krokodil, president P. W. Botha, Chief of the South African Defence Force and Chief of the South African Army.
If information contained in the book The Lost Boys of Bird Island is correct, Malan and two former National Party ministers, together with an influential businessman from Port Elizabeth, were running a de facto paedophile ring. All on government time, all with state resources. Lekker, né.
Malan is accused of ghastly deeds, sexual abuse of young boys who never stood a chance. The thing that counted most against them, was that they were coloured in a time when people of colour had no voice. They never stood a chance.Just as no one would have heard their cries on the now notorious Bird Island off the coast of Port Elizabeth, no one would believe their cries against the all-powerful white masters of the land at the time.
Compounding my hurt and disgust is the reaction to the news since Sunday, when an Afrikaans Sunday newspaper ran an extract from the book by former policeman Mark Minnie and ex-journalist Chris Steyn. If I did not have a full grasp of secondary victimisation before, I sure as hell have now.
A barrage, coming from mostly Afrikaans-speaking people, has shot down anyone who dared to share the link to the various stories and reaction pieces to the explosive information, leaping to the defence of Malan, John Wiley, minister of Environmental Affairs at the time, and another minister who is not named as he is still alive.
Businessman John Allen was the fourth member of the sordid ring. Both he and Wiley died under suspicious circumstances.
There is a common thread to the comments. How dare you accuse General Malan of something so hideous? How dare you tarnish the name of a great man? How dare you disrespect a man who has kept us safe from the Swart Gevaar, the Rooi Gevaar, the ANC, the terrorists?To those denialists – how dare you defend the indefensible? How dare you turn a blind eye to atrocities committed against the most vulnerable? How dare you tell the victims that their pain is nothing compared to the good name of the good general who kept South Africa safe – just not the young boys who were flown in an army helicopter, by soldiers, to Bird Island for the gratuitous sexual fantasies of perverts.
After Malan’s death on July 18 2011, journalist Chris Barron in an obituary in The Sunday Times wrote: “Malan did little or nothing for those who suffered post-traumatic stress fighting an undeclared, unacknowledged, increasingly ferocious war in a foreign land. He allowed bizarre and inhumane experiments to be carried out to ‘cure’ troops suspected of being homosexual.
“He sneered that those who objected to fighting on religious grounds were ‘mommy’s little boys’. He regarded conscientious objectors as criminals, sent them to jail and authorised smear campaigns against supporters of the End Conscription Campaign, which he banned in 1988.”
The story from the book that will continue to haunt me, is the one about the young boy who was shot in the anus, reportedly by Malan.
The horror, the absolute horror will continue to haunt me, as it undoubtedly does the victims, if they are still alive.
If the surviving minister implicated had a shred of humanity, decency or morality left, he could still bring closure, maybe even healing to those victims whose cries were never heard.
I doubt he will.
So it is left to us to amplify the cries of those boys, now men, and the countless others who suffer the same fate to this day.