Security Clearance of Ministers

It is standard practice internationally, that before appointing any person to a position as responsible as that of a minister, the Head of Government or State would obtain from the country’s relevant security structures full reports, evaluating all possible security risks pertaining to appointing that particular individual into such a position of trust.

All cabinet positions in some way or another, deal with national security-sensitive matters. It stands to reason, however, that when appointments to the key portfolios were made, where matters of national security were involved, the scrutiny net became even stricter and finer.

In South Africa, this essential requirement was a strictly applied standard practice.

Magnus Malan for a long time, was a key figure in SA’s defence strategies, including its now well-known nuclear arms and other highly secret defence facts, plans and developments.

Barend du Plessis, as Minister of Finance, primarily dealt with fiscal and monetary policies, priorities and plans, but also attended presentations on a need-to-know basis, of defence and security matters, including SA’s nuclear capabilities.

This made them targets for assassinations as well as blackmailing by international agents or operators with a view to obtaining strategic information from them, should they ever find themselves in any compromising situation or circumstance.

They both served in their portfolios and on the State Security Council for many years and under two presidents, Magnus as prescribed by the State Security Act and Barend by invitation of the President.

At that time, the Government was under constant close scrutiny by international secret services, who also advised their Governments about any security or reputational risks of high-ranking officials, such as ministers from other countries, including South Africa, who would/might visit high-ranking office bearers in their own countries.

Magnus’ international visits would have been clandestine, but Barend du Plessis’ visits to Mrs Margaret Thatcher and a significant number of other Heads of State and Governments, as well as Ministers, mostly were public knowledge.

In addition, Barend was a Governor of the International Monetary Fund for eight years and addressed the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank, held in various countries, on each of those occasions.

It is simply foolish, if not mindless, to think that all three ministers’ regular security clearances both locally and internationally, would not have revealed even the slightest flaws in their characters and behaviour, especially of the kind that the book “The Lost Boys of Bird Island” so liberally attributes to them.

Any such inkling, originating from credible local or international sources would have led to their immediate dismissal.

On the contrary, they not only were re-appointed for several terms as ministers, but both Magnus and Barend received the then highest civic awards, The Order for Meritorious Service.

During his years in the SA Defence Force, Magnus attended advanced Military courses and seminars in several foreign countries and received countless visiting high-ranking military office bearers in his office in SA.

Very early in his tenure of service, as invited by Pres PW Botha, Barend was fully briefed on the nuclear programme and its related matters.

Pres. FW de Klerk later appointed him as a member of a small special committee to oversee the dismantlement of the SA nuclear warfare capabilities.

Barend had one-on-one meetings with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, at her invitation, and several high-ranking members of government in the USA, some South American States and Taiwan.

Can anybody deem it possible that the secret services of these countries would have allowed a minister compromised by one of the vilest criminal misdeeds to visit any high office bearer in their country?

Definitely not, they would have advised most strongly against such interviews. Barend regularly received high-ranking international dignitaries in his office and he often was a member of SA delegations meeting foreign office bearers in and outside SA.

Can, in the mind of any informed and reasonable person, it really for one moment be deemed possible for Magnus and Barend in the portfolios that they had held and been re-appointed to for so many years, to have escaped the attention of SA’s own secret services as well as those of all the other countries they had visited and whose secret services operated in SA if in the least, they had been involved in the heinous and despicable deeds the book “The Lost Boys of Bird Island” accuses them of?

Would PW Botha, and thereafter FW de Klerk, have exposed his cabinet and SA’s interests to any minister so fatally compromised as the book suggested they had been?

Barend was beaten by only eight votes by FW de Klerk in the election of the Leader-in-Chief of the National Party, a position that would have led him to the become State President.

Barend enjoyed the confidence of his fellow members of the National Party, such, that he was unanimously elected leader of the National Party in Transvaal.

It boggles the mind that such things could have been written about persons with such track records. It could not have happened by accident, but only if consciously perpetrated with vicious ulterior motives. It also was carried out despite the risks contained in committing such untruths and in fact impossibilities to writing. It displays ruthlessness and pure malice, incontrovertibly substantiated by the contents of “The Lost Boys of Bird Island”, as also distributed internationally.

Moreover, the two authors claiming to have done more than “thirty years’ intensive research” before writing the book, could easily have established what appears above in this narrative within only a few minutes’ telephone call to any of many political science academics or knowledgeable commentators available locally and internationally.

Truth is, the authors intentionally avoided being confronted by facts that might have interfered with their fraudulent and malicious intent with the book to scandalise three former ministers. Neither did their Media24 Publishing Editor bother to do any verification or due diligence and nor, for that matter, neither did their legal adviser and her immediate supervisors and Board of Directors.


Read about the actual visit to Bird Island in January 1987