About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Malan, Magnus

In 1943 at the age of 13 Magnus Malan ran away to join the Union Defence Force. In 1946 he was permitted to join the Physical Training Battalion. His career and life were closely entwined with the South African Defence Force for more than 40 years.

In 1950 he joined the SA Defence Force as a cadet. He obtained a BSc (Military) degree in 1953 and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the SA Marines. When the Marines were disbanded he was transferred to the SA Army. During his military career he was appointed as a training officer at Robben Island; Aide-de-Camp for the then Governor General of SA; Infantry Company Commander; Officer Commanding the Military Academy; Officer Commanding South West Africa/Namibia Command; Officer Commanding Western Province Command; Chief of the Army; Chief of the SA Defence Force. During his military career he attended a U.S. Army Command and General Staff course and was seconded for a period to the 35th Mechanised Division in the USA. In 1980 he was invited to join the SA Government and served as Minister of Defence for 11 years. In the early 1990s he was demoted to a relatively junior ministerial position. He retired at the beginning of 1993.

In 1996 he was one of those brought to court in Durban for the alleged involvement in acts of political violence perpetrated by the security establishment in the 1980's.  He was acquitted.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.