In response to a scathing review on Thursday of her book with Mark Minnie, The Lost Boys of Bird Island, co-author Chris Steyn defended herself against much of the criticism investigative journalist Jacques Pauw had initially levelled at her.
Writing on News24, Steyn denied that she had never declared her marriage to a Civil Cooperation Bureau commander, but that it was not mentioned in the book since it was not relevant. Her publishers had known, though, and she’d mentioned it in interviews.
She pointed out that Pauw appeared guilty of not reading her book “carefully enough”, since he got important names of individuals and institutions wrong, and made certain assumptions that were never stated in the book, such as that they had written about “army helicopters”.
Steyn said: “Pauw calls the late Mark Minnie a ‘sloppy’ cop. Yet, he himself makes crucial mistakes in his comments on the book. If he was still alive, Minnie would have returned the compliment and charged Pauw with ‘sloppy’ journalism.”
Minnie committed suicide last month shortly after the book became a bestselling sensation.
She told Pauw he’d apparently confused two stories about alleged paedophile victims, while also getting wrong the details of how ARVs were offered to one of them.
Steyn also maintained that Minnie had been pulled off the investigation by the then president, PW Botha, and that Minnie had indeed tried to help the boys, contrary to Pauw’s allegations.
“Pauw comments on Minnie going to see Brigadier Ernie Schnetler, but it is unlikely that Minnie was referring to Schnetler, and he did not write that either. The only time he referred to Schnetler by name was when he recounted how he was told the brigadier had come for the docket,” said Steyn.
Steyn also denied Pauw’s charge that she had protected the identity of a surgeon who saved one of the alleged victims of a paedophilia ring.
“That said, I do appreciate the fact that Pauw actually read the book before commenting on it. But perhaps he should have read it a little bit more carefully.”
She said she still regarded him as one of our finest investigative journalists, but maintained that she stood by her book and would “challenge anybody to dispute that we have – and are still dealing with – a cover-up at the highest level. That is why there is so much more to expose. And that is why I will continue to pursue the truth.”
She concluded: “Believe me, for the sake of those boys, I have always wished it were not true.”