Three former National Party ministers, including strongman Magnus Malan and one who is still alive, have been named as central figures in a paedophilia ring that operated during apartheid.Investigations into Malan, former apartheid minister of defence, as well as John Wiley, minister of environmental affairs and another minister, who was considered a possible successor to then president PW Botha and who is still alive, were halted by the police and the investigating officer hounded from service in the 1980s. These and other explosive allegations are contained in The Lost Boys of Bird Island, a book by former policeman Mark Minnie and ex-journalist Chris Steyn, which hits the shelves on Sunday.The three were involved, along with disgraced Port Elizabeth businessman John Allen, in ferrying coloured minors to Bird Island in Algoa Bay near Port Elizabeth where the children were molested and forced to satisfy the older men’s sexual fantasies. Malan died in 2011, while Wiley and Allen both officially committed suicide in 1987. The third minister is believed to have had a holiday home in the Eastern Cape, was a senior member of Cabinet and considered a front-runner to take over the reins from Botha. His identity was withheld by the publishers based on legal advice.One child was maimed when a gun was thrust up his anus and the trigger pulled. He was transported by helicopter to a local hospital and treated under guard.The book's commissioning editor Maryna Lamprecht, from Tafelberg Publishers, says the story is important because it further exposes the depravity of the apartheid system. "It dehumanised people in every possible way, even to the point of exploiting vulnerable children sexually to satisfy the needs of powerful politicians."Read an extract from the book: We called him 'Ore'The book claims that Malan, who was called "Ore" (Afrikaans for ears), commandeered air force helicopters to take him, his friends and the children to the island, sometimes for days. It also places Malan lying in a bathtub in a rented flat in the city where a young boy was also sexually assaulted. Minnie was a detective at the police’s narcotics bureau in Port Elizabeth in the 1980s when he came across allegations that children were recruited by Allen, a local environmentalist, diver and businessman, to perform sex acts on him and the politicians. Steyn was a journalist at the Cape Times who investigated the apparent suicide of Wiley, the only English-speaking member of Botha’s cabinet and a colourful socialite in Cape Town. Allen was found with a single gunshot to the head on a beach outside Port Elizabeth after he missed a court appearance in connection with the possession of pornography. Wiley was found dead in his home in Noordhoek, near Cape Town, shortly after. Both Minnie and Steyn were not convinced that Allen and Wiley committed suicide and believed that there was a conspiracy from the highest levels of government to prevent information linking National Party luminaries to paedophilia from leaking out. Minnie was intimidated and forced to resign from the police while Steyn’s full investigations were never published by the Cape Times. Steyn confronted Malan in later years at his home, but the former head of the army and defence force who helped devise Botha’s "total strategy" against the liberation movements would merely respond with: "What is a paedophile?"Read the book editor's notes: Nothing more that can shock us... or so we thought* The Lost Boys of Bird Island, by Mark Minnie and Chris Steyn, is published by Tafelberg Publishers and retails for R280. It is available from today.