Johan Mostert

(Klik hier vir oorspronklike brief in Afrikaans)

Holding leadership positions started featuring early in Johan Mostert’s life. He completed a BA (Honns) degree in Political Science at the University of the Free State, where he was Chairman of the Students’ Representative Council and also a member of the National Executive of the Afrikaanse Studentebond, a country-wide students’ organisation.

His first appointment was as journalist at “Volksblad” in Bloemfontein, reporting to Hennie van Deventer, acclaimed as a doyen in the history of South African newspapermen and editors. Hennie immediately assigned Johan to a key position political reporting, an unusual appointment for a rookie.

A year later he joined the Bureau for State Security, which later became National Intelligence.

He specialised in interpretation and critical analysis of information, ultimately as a General Manager and Secretary of the State Security Council. During the transition, he was a member of the committee headed by a senior ANC leader, tasked with designing and implementing the new National Intelligence structure for the new Constitution.

In his retirement, he now devotes his time to his family and community and cultural activities

This letter from Johan Mostert was published in Beeld on 15 April 2019 with the heading “Uitgewer was liggelowig” (“Publisher was gullible”).



Johan Mostert



Die Burger (DB)

Volksblad (VB)

Beeld (B)

Rapport (R)







 B: “Publisher was gullible”

Letter No. 1

Author: Johan Mostert

Newspaper(s) - Date(s)

Die Burger (DB)

Volksblad (VB)

Beeld (B) - 2019/04/15

Rapport (R)


- B: “Publisher was gullible”.

“Publisher was gullible”

“The manner in which NB Publishers and the author Chris Steyn are trying to exonerate themselves from the uproar surrounding The Lost Boys of Bird Island is extremely amateurish.

It speaks of much naivety in a trade where discernment should be one of the foremost priorities.

NB says: “We strongly deny that NB Publishers fabricated any information or facts in the book.”

Beeld reports that one of the authors, Chris Steyn, had passed a polygraph test. The questions that had been put to her in the test, led to the same defence as that which NB puts forward. From their response it would seem that neither the publisher nor the author understands the core of the matter.

The issue is not whether what they had heard, was correctly reflected or about whether they had fabricated stories. It is about their incredible gullibility in believing the untested rubbish put before them.

Even if ten thousand stories that you had heard, would be conveyed unfabricated, it would still not necessarily mean they are true. The core of the controversy over the book is the question whether the far-fetched allegations that are made in it, are true or not.

It is not about whether the sources that were used, had been correctly quoted. Firstly, and lastly it is about whether the sources had told the truth.

It is therefore about the thorough evaluation of sources, which is after all one of the basic principles of journalism and one that is expected to be adhered to by publishers and writers of non-fiction.

Excellent examples of how it should be done, are the books by Jacques Pauw (The President’s Keepers) and Pieter-Louis Myburgh (Gangster State). Their books create the impression of a sincere pursuit of the truth. The same can unfortunately not be said about The Lost Boys of Bird Island.

The publisher owes the public an apology, not a pathetic excuse.

The question still remains: Why was a respected publisher so easily taken for a ride?