Magnus Malan's career

2011-07-18 12:30

Cape Town - Former apartheid defence minister Magnus Malan died at the age of 81 on Monday morning, his family said.

"General Magnus Malan died peacefully early this morning at home. He leaves his wife of 49 years behind, as well as three children and nine grandchildren," his family said in a statement.

It was not clear how he died.

Malan served as minister of defence from 1980 to 1991, an appointment that followed a long military career - stretching back to the 1950s - in the SA Defence Force. There, he rose through the ranks and was appointed chief of the defence force in 1976.

Malan built up a reputation as a highly competent strategist, and became one of the leading exponents of the "total onslaught" theory.

Early years

He was born on January 30, 1930 in Pretoria, the son of Avril Ire de Merindol, a professor of biochemistry and later an MP and Speaker of the House of Assembly, and Elizabeth Frederika Malan.

After attending the Afrikaans High School in Pretoria, he matriculated at Dr Danie Craven's Physical Education Brigade in Kimberley in 1948.

He was inspired to join the military, but his father, an academic, advised him to further his education. In 1949 he registered at the University of Stellenbosch for a BCom degree.

At the end of that year, the first military degree course for officers was advertised and Malan joined the Permanent Force as a cadet, going on to complete his BSc Mil at the University of Pretoria in 1953.

He was commissioned in the Navy and served in the Marines based on Robben Island. When they were disbanded, he was transferred back into the Army as a lieutenant.

During Malan's military career, he completed 11 courses, including the regular command and general staff officers' course in the United States during 1962/63.

After several command posts, he became chief of the SA Army in 1973, and Chief of the SA Defence Force in 1976.

Cabinet appointment

In 1980, he was appointed to the Cabinet of PW Botha as minister of defence. The following year he was elected National Party MP for Modderfontein.

Malan also rose within National Party ranks, being elected to the Transvaal NP's executive committee in 1981, and rising to become one of the party's vice-chairpersons in that province.

In 1991, he became chairperson of the Ministers' Council in the House of Assembly.

Malan's public statements as chief of the SADF dealt mainly with the alleged "total onslaught" against South Africa and the need to develop a "total national strategy" to counteract it at all levels.

He also believed that the answer to South Africa's problems was ultimately political, not military, in nature.

During Malan's term as minister of defence, troops were used in the control of unrest in townships.

In 1986, following the introduction of a national state of emergency, he argued that political rights were not a relevant concern among the black masses.

In 1987, Malan admitted for the first time that South African troops were supporting Unita in Angola, and were also in that country to counter Swapo and the ANC.

Namibia talks

In 1988, he and then minister of foreign affairs, Pik Botha, participated in talks on South West Africa (SWA) and Angola on the Cape Verde Islands, and in Brazzaville and Cairo, where they met Angolan representatives.

The talks eventually led to a settlement in both countries, with SWA becoming the independent Namibia under a Swapo government in 1990.

Malan was awarded the following military decorations: Star of South Africa (1975); Southern Cross Decoration (1977); Pro Patria Medal with Cunene Clasp (1977).

During 1990, his position as minister of defence came under threat following public revelations about SADF death squads operating against civilians.

On February 3, 1993, Malan retired from politics after 12 years in Parliament.

Malan married Margot van der Walt in 1962. The couple had two sons and a daughter.

  • vangraan - 2011-07-18 13:25

    he was supposed to charged for genocide before his death.

      Gewete - 2011-07-18 13:45

      He was charged and aquitted. President (then) Mandela asked that South Africans must accept the verdict.

      Kgobana - 2011-07-18 13:57

      What about the ANC guys who are screwing their own people. Broer, you have to look at the bigger picture here. Almost all ANC high profile are making business with the government at a very high cost. Our brothers and sister are without jobs while Malema, the so clled champion of the poor demolish R3,6 mill house and build a mansion at a cost of R16 million. For Pete's sake, that guy failed wood work. Where did he get the money from? I have Bsc Honors with 12 years working experience and i still cannot afford that house. Please wake up and smell the coffee. Masese

      Aj - 2011-07-18 19:28

      he was supposed to charged for genocide before his death. ? You must be HIGH.... How many people die every year as apposed to the 7000 during the whole of apartheid ? Facts and figures may lead the wise.. trickery and ignorance will be your demise..

      John Paul - 2011-07-18 23:41

      AJ, The ANC ( Abortion Murder Genocide ) claims to have lost 13 000, or was it 16 000? ' operatives ' = terrorists during the armed struggle. So I take it that they must have killed about 130 000 / 160 000 civilians over the years? In War by any Other Word? by Peter Stiff, he explains that those killed by the security forces are known, but not those by the revolutionaries, as they did not keep records...

  • Kgobana - 2011-07-18 13:52

    The fact that the masses of this country called South Africa are still leaving in a serious povery when young uneducated Malema demolished a house worth R3.6 mil, i am inclined to forgive this Malan guy. Otherwise, what makes him worse than the current ANC crooks? Masese

      Cassie - 2011-07-18 21:01

      for what is worth the past will always be two sides One wrong one right depents on what side you where at the time as in any war. what we should focus on is what is happening now, What is done to as now that we are supose to be one nation. the money stolen from the goverment in the past few years could have paid for all the land neaded for reform or better schools hospitals etc. Yet the Goverment choose to let the people that are implicated in corruption carry on leading the pack. and blame the whites for all the shortfalls and think that the poor and middle class Blacks are to stupid to realise what is happening they must wake up the day is comeing. it took 50 years to get rid of the NP I believe 18 has [past for the ANC and hopefully the people will wake up before 50 years pass on us again....

      cliffarc - 2011-07-18 21:24

      - Well said brother.

      Sammy - 2011-07-20 07:35


  • ex-pat - 2011-07-18 14:00

    Former apartheid defence minister Magnus Malan died at the age of 81 ... It was not clear how he died. Of old age would be a fair guess, I'd say.

      LJ Graey - 2011-07-18 17:01

      Lol... Vesto, I doubt Julius could find his own arse-hole with both hands and a road-map. Still, he's my favourite little Acyl-piggy...

      Gazza69 - 2011-07-19 10:20 should have gone to the army. Then you would have been a man...not the pathetic excuse of a social commentator you are now. Your comments are flaccid like you!

  • siya.block - 2011-07-18 14:23


      Sammy - 2011-07-18 15:28

      As much as he and the previous regime screwed up, This current ANC is just as bad if not worse.

      Tolerant - 2011-07-18 16:36

      He studied and studied and studied, we can all learn from him.

      Cassie - 2011-07-18 21:04

      If you dit not care why read it?

      John Paul - 2011-07-18 23:54

      Part of his career was the development of the Eland, Buffel, Caspir, Ratel, and Rooikat. There are others, but these military vehicles were EXPORTED by the New South Africa so bringing in precious Foreign Exchange. ( which was wasted in the 77 billion arms scandal ).

      Airborne68 - 2011-07-19 15:35

      Siya, shouldn't you be on your disgusting porno sites that you list in your facebook profile. Stay away from here you filthy pig!

  • Cassie - 2011-07-18 20:49

    Peace to all may God be with his family and friends and give peace in the hearts of the people that clearly hated him as forgiveness is the only thing that will heal our country and clearly we are far from it.

  • Lauren - 2011-07-19 00:49

    1. Candida, go see a doctor, if not, go Google it. Not so good. 2. I applaud what you are saying, to a degree. It just amazes me how your good will has borders. 3. John Paul, get your head out of your backside. It's two thousand and late. We do not celebrate being a certain colour anymore. We embrace the world and all its people these days. If you've been asleep for a while, please wake up, shake your head a bit, blink and wake up, yeah?

  • John Wilderness - 2011-07-19 06:45

    Ou Magnus enjoyed peaceful retirement funded by apartheid loot. What a way to go. Same like ole pee wee. I suppose the current ANC guard is anticipating a similar ride into into the sunset.

  • frederick777 - 2011-07-19 08:25

    Now, please post the CV's of our current ministers and other leaders, including the Defence Forece. Then we will know why we are in the terrible state whe're in. It will probably be Standard 6 plus bomb two buildings!

      Kenko - 2011-07-20 10:52

      Yeah I would like to see that. High-ranking officers saluting with whatever hand they wish, making about-turns any way they wish, marching like camels, slapping any shiny thing available on their uniforms, oh my!

      patrickb - 2011-07-20 12:15

      Thanks for the lag!

  • Joe24 - 2011-07-19 13:13

    I have no time for this man, I wish him no ill but he will not be missed in many circles. He inspired the troops to rise up and fight and to support their brothers in arms no matter what-then he dropped us, a true political animal. He will be judged where he has gone, not on this earth. To those he abondoned without a second thought; be at peace my brothers his time has come as surely as we had done it ourselves.

  • Lionel - 2011-07-19 14:36

    What a boring CV - he never saw combat, but forced us to do his dirty work.

      Deon - 2011-07-19 18:40

      Strange they do not mention it, but he did serve on the SWA border.

  • Johnny - 2011-07-19 15:12

    Lots of racists on here!! Yoh cant believe this, have to coincide with George and Oompie here....If you have not lived in the times when apartheid was in then dont comment with statistics if you never lived with the times when a whole race group had no rights and were treated like animals in cages. I look at comments in this article with the death of a man who asked for troops to go to the townships and kill! Mandela pardoned him nevertheless and then you have to also look at the comments in the other article where "mandela" roads where renamed to clive derby Lewis or whatever.... 70% of both these articles had racist comments, likes and dislikes, there are so many of you out there that have this mentality, I cannot believe this! You support right wing groups in SA that believe in apartheid morals and have no respect for Icons of our time. I am not black or white but Indian but really I think why so much hatred to one another. Ever heard of making the change in your lives? You do know that you cannot undo what has happened in the past(black and white) but you can learn from it and ensure that the future is positive. Do you all want the future to exist with racism, where our children grow up with the same hatred and negative tones that you have. YOU make the changes in life, dont use a newspaper column to vent your anger and frustrations. I am though because so tired of your racist comments to one another. You want to make a change - organise a peace march!!

      Kenko - 2011-07-20 10:58

      No soldier was ever ordered into the townships with orders to kill. There was much more, too much to put here.

  • ingridafrica - 2011-07-19 16:13

    why did he not take his father's surname? anyone know?

      zebracobra - 2011-07-20 10:02

      Afrikaans if no Afrikaans no position in aprteid regime hence Malan big afrikaans surname

  • Emil Loffler - 2011-07-20 10:35

    Magnus Malan did not "screw up." He gave us a good few years protected from the black negroid species in general. As whites, most of us were not asked to be born in this country, although we had the full right to colonize it as well. Also as whites, we shouldn't have to school with, work and socialize with blacks. They have not the genetic intelligence of the white species, and thus push themselves "tribally" onto us. A prideful,intelligent, state of the art nation doesn't blame other race groups for poor development. Whites just get on with it, and still have to put up with huge problems from non-whites, all of whom they'd prefer not to have anything whatsoever to do with. We can survive totally without any help whatsoever from non-whites. In fact it's very true that we'd have a far better life without any of those species existing on this planet.

  • Emil Loffler - 2011-07-20 10:44

    Carnivorous lions etc., are put into reserves and deadly force is used to stop them attacking us. Is not the the black negroid species even more dangerous to whites? Hence Magnus's need to protect whites by his actions. I say. Looking at what blacks are now doing to us, we're in a bad situation, far, far worse than when Apartheid was in. If it had been reverse Apartheid, we whites would have been very happy to get on with our lives unaffected by black negroid species, largely all of whom cannot develop "westernized style" ways and intelligence, but have forced their way in, to "screw up" all of our lives here. Sadly,a lot of us can't leave and get a life in a country where whites are in majority, because of our financial situation.

  • Tereblanche - 2011-07-20 11:22

    This journalist omitted to say that Malan was behind the murder and assassination of Black kids in 1976, what a bisa unbalanced reporting.........typical of neo-liberal apartheid beneficiaries white south africans, who hate everything about ANC but loves Mandela..

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