John Wiley (politician)

John Walter Edington Wiley
Deputy Minister of Envronmental Affairs and Fisheries
In office
Prime MinisterP. W. Botha
Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
In office
PresidentP. W. Botha
Environmental Affairs and Water Affairs
In office
PresidentP. W. Botha
Personal details
Born7 February 1927
St James, Cape Province, South Africa
Died29 March 1987(1987-03-29) (aged 60)
Noordhoek, Cape Province, South Africa
Political partyNational Party
Other political
United Party
South African Party
Alma materUniversity of Cape Town
University of Oxford
OccupationLawyer, politician
Personal information
BowlingRight-arm medium
RelationsWilliam Wiley (brother)
Domestic team information
1947/48Western Province
1949–1951Oxford University
Career statistics
Competition First-class
Matches 12
Runs scored 410
Batting average 18.63
100s/50s –/2
Top score 70
Catches/stumpings 8/–

John Walter Edington Wiley (7 February 1927 – 29 March 1987) was a South African first-class cricketer and politician who served as the only white English-speaker in P. W. Botha's majority Afrikaans cabinet.

Education and cricket[]

The son of James Byron Wiley, he was born in Cape Town suburb of St James in February 1927. He was educated at the Diocesan College, before enrolling at the University of Cape Town to study law.[1] While studying at Cape Town, Wiley played first-class cricket, making two appearances for Western Province against Rhodesia and Orange Free State in the 1947–48 Currie Cup, in addition to making a single appearance for a South African Universities cricket team against the touring Marylebone Cricket Club in the same season.[2] He scored two of what were to be his only first-class half centuries in these matches, with half century scores of 70 runs for Western Province and 50 runs for South African Universities.[3] After graduating from Cape Town, Wiley went to England to study for his masters degree at Lincoln College at the University of Oxford.[4] While studying at Oxford, he appeared in first-class cricket for Oxford University in 1949–51, making nine appearances.[2] Wiley scored 232 runs for Oxford at an average of 13.64 and a high score of 30.[3]

Political career and suicide[]

Wiley was first elected a Member of Parliament for Simon's Town in the 1966 South African general election for the United Party.[5] He was expelled from the United Party following a liberal takeover led by Harry Schwarz, with Wiley founding his own party, the South African Party in 1977, alongside five other expelled United Party MPs.[6] He disbanded the party in 1980, joining the ruling National Party led by P. W. Botha.[7] Upon his joining of the National Party, Wiley triggered a by-election in his Simonstown constituency and notably defended it, defeating the former cricketer Eddie Barlow of the Progressive Federal Party and obtaining a breakthrough for the majority Afrikaans National Party in a predominantly English–speaking constituency.[8][7]

He later served in Botha's cabinet as its only English-speaking member and held the office of Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism from 1984–1986 and Minister of Environmental Affairs and Water Affairs from 1986–87, having previously held the post of Deputy Minister of Envronmental Affairs and Fisheries from 1982–84.[6][5] Politically, Wiley was considered to have been a staunch anti-communist and critical of liberalism, a critic of the Soviet Union and softening stance of the west toward it in the 1980s, in addition to supporting the white-minority government of Ian Smith in Rhodesia.[7] With his Simonstown seat under threat in the 1987 South African general election, Wiley committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in the bedroom of his home on 29 March 1987.[9] The exact motive behind his suicide has remained a matter of speculation, ranging from financial,[6] to a media campaign questioning his probity and speculating about his sexuality, to Wiley being a member of an elite pedophile ring headed by Magnus Malan. The 2018 book The Lost Boys of Bird Island, links his death to that of Dave Allen, another alleged member of the ring. Two weeks after the books publication, the books co-author Mark Minnie was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in an apparent suicide.[10]


  1. ^ Who's Who in South African Politics. Ravan Press. 1985. p. 320. ISBN 9780869752807.
  2. ^ a b "First-Class Matches played by John Wiley". CricketArchive. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  3. ^ a b "First-Class Batting and Fielding For Each Team by John Wiley". CricketArchive. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  4. ^ Oxford University Calendar. University of Oxford. 1950. p. 530.
  5. ^ a b "WILEY, John Walter Edington". Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Parks, Michael (30 March 1987). "S. African Cabinet Member Found Dead: Apparent Suicide Poses Election Problems for Botha and Party". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Tyler, Humphrey (5 September 1980). "S. African premier rubs hands over election victory". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  8. ^ Tyler, Humphrey (8 July 1980). "South African by-election will pose test for English-speaking whites". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  9. ^ Firth, David (2011). Silence Of The Heart: Cricket Suicides. Random House. p. 43. ISBN 978-1780573939.
  10. ^ Chothia, Farouk (5 August 2018). "South Africa's 'paedophile' minister and a mysterious death". BBC News. Retrieved 13 July 2020.

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