Jacques Pauw rages about 'deceitful' response from Bird Island co-author Chris Steyn

The war of words between writers Jacques Pauw and Chris Steyn continued on Saturday.

Pauw posted a scathing message on Facebook in response to Steyn's comments about his review of her and late Mark Minnie's controversial book, The Lost Boys of Bird Island.

The book implicates senior National Party ministers in a paedophile ring in Port Elizabeth in the 1980s.

Pauw took issue with the fact that Steyn had accused him of "sloppy" journalism and of getting his facts wrong in his review.

Steyn wrote: "Pauw says Minnie went drinking after visiting the coloured boy allegedly shot in the rear. Mark never met or interviewed that boy. Pauw makes the crucial mistake of confusing one injured boy with another who also ended up in hospital with an anal injury, but was not coloured, just dark-skinned."

This refers to an incident where a gun was allegedly inserted into a boy's anus by former defence minister Magnus Malan and discharged.

READ: Minnie would have charged Pauw with 'sloppy journalism'

Pauw responded, saying: "I challenge anyone to read the book that would not conclude that the boy that Minnie visited in hospital was the boy that was shot in his anus.

"In fact, the esteemed journalist Marianne Thamm, who wrote the forward (sic), thought so as well. Thamm wrote in Daily Maverick on 14 August: 'Minnie came to the case when one of the victims had been injured when a gun allegedly inserted into his anus had been fired. Minnie was the first to interview the victim who had been secreted to a whites-only hospital in the city.'"

Pauw wrote that the Mail & Guardian had made the same "mistake" in a piece by Eusebius McKaiser on August 15.

"So Chris, are Eusebius and Thamm – the person who wrote your forward (sic) and probably studied the manuscript – also sloppy journalists?" Pauw asked.

READ: Mark Minnie: A sloppy, negligent and careless policeman

Pauw continues by taking issue with another assertion in Steyn's published response: "Pauw says Minnie told the boy he would not get anti-retrovirals if he did not co-operate with the investigation. What Mark actually wrote was that he told the boy that the State would give it to him for free if he signed a sworn statement."

Pauw's response: "This is what I wrote in my review: 'But don't worry, he told the boy, if you co-operate I will make sure that you get the anti-retroviral AZT when it becomes available in South Africa.'

"What was wrong with what I wrote?"

Pauw goes on to say that Minnie had done nothing to aid the victims, and if he did – as Steyn had asserted – it was not mentioned in the book.

He further questions why Steyn did not comment on the fact that Minnie acted illegally when he released Dave Allan on a warning after charging him with the sexual assault of underage children.

'Talking rubbish'

"I therefore trust that you accept that he was terribly negligent. And that he’s talking absolute rubbish when he says that the prosecutor stopped his investigation," Pauw wrote.

Pauw then responds to what he calls "an astonishing" comment from Steyn, where she wrote: "Pauw says two Air Force pilots poured cold water on the claim that boys were flown to the island in 'army' helicopters. In fact, Minnie wrote that the boy he interviewed had said that boys were picked up in 'a helicopter'. He did not say it was an 'army' helicopter."

"I want to refer Steyn to Chapter 18 of the book where Minnie interviewed an abused boy he calls William," Pauw responds.

"I quote from the book:

'I throw one last question at William.

'How did they get all the kids to bird island?'

'Military helicopters or boats.'"

Pauw acknowledged that he had erred in initially referring to Dave Allen, one of the alleged perpetrators, as John Allen, and that he had mistaken the Foundation for Human Rights for the Human Rights Commission.

Pauw is best known as an investigative journalist and writer of the book The President’s Keepers, among others.

Steyn told News24 on Saturday: "I stand by my response. If people are not sure what to believe, they should read [my response] again in conjunction with the book."

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