I was born in East London in 1955, the second youngest of two brothers and two sisters. My father was of English and Irish descent and my mother was Afrikaans-speaking, born into a family of twelve in Pietersburg. After schooling my first career choice was to join the SA Navy. My father had served on a destroyer the HMS Devonshire during the second world war. SA had just received the first of three Daphne-class submarines and it was my dream to be a part of our history. Instead my army call-up papers arrived and I settled for second-best, to join the SA Police.
I celebrated my 19th birthday in 1974 on the way to Rhodesia. In the border “bush-war” I served in an eight-man “kit-bag” squad that roamed the countryside in search of the elusive enemy. Back home after a year in the Mobile Unit in Umtata, Transkei, I became a detective in East London. Later my best years were spent in SANAB, the Drug Squad. In 1977, I was transferred to the Security Branch (SB) where I served as a cryptographer. A case of mistaken identity in a marital affair saw me exiled to Oshakati in Owamboland for a year. There I played a major yet untold role in the birth of Koevoet, one of the world’s most formidable anti-terrorist units.
When I was stationed In Walvis Bay, then still part of SA, the countries “most wanted” woman was rumoured to be in hiding in between the Western Cape and Namibia. Almost two years later I led SAP members of the elite “ghost squad” to a guest house near Oudtshoorn where she was arrested. After 20 years of service I left the police and became the risk manager at an American company in Johannesburg. My son was 4 years old when my daughter was born on my birthday to bless my wife and I with a beautiful pigeon-pair. Ten years later I relocated to Cape Town and worked for an investigation company.
During 2008/9 I was sent to work in the heart of the Congo jungle in a diamond venture best forgotten. On my return to Cape Town I slipped back into my position as the Undercover manager at the same investigation company. As the FIFA World Cup soccer games in South Africa neared, one of my undercover agents relayed information of a planned terror attack in Cape Town. At the airport days later, I photographed the arrival of the first suicide bombers on their arrival from a Middle East country. The planned attack was foiled, rather, a compromise was reached and the group left the country without incident. My agent weeks later had a suspicious heart attack and died. Since then I have been doing private analytical work. I’m hoping to have my latest book on the shelves by the end of this year – 2017.
Why and how did you start with your writing career?
When in the police and at office coffee breaks, we would sit around and share our true-life stories. Many urged me to write my memoirs and when I underwent an operation that saw me restricted for six weeks, I started to write my biography.
- When was your first book published, and how many books have you published so far?
My first book was my biography which I named, “My Cryptic Life” using the pseudonym “Donald Els Alanby” which, read backwards is, “by Alan Elsdon.” The book was published in 2006. Since then I wrote the 2009 book “The Tall Assassin” which was translated into “Die lang Generaal.” Last year (2016) in December, these two books reached the magic 100,000 sales figure … thanks largely to the ladies at Groep 7.
- Do you have any other books in the pipeline?
Yes, I investigated the 2005 “Knysna Murders” for about 3 years and over the last 18 months also the 2005 murder of Inge Lotz in Stellenbosch. All three murders were investigated by the same police director and in combining the three cases in one book, I’m planning to reveal shocking new evidence about police cover-up’s, corruption and truths about the perpetrators.
Where and how do you do your research?
Most of my research is done in my spare time. I work from home or in the towns where the murders were committed. A good friend, also an ex-policeman, assists me when the going gets a bit rough. Apart from that, I rely upon my ancient detective skills and God’s guidance to unravel SA’s unsolved murders.
Alan D Elsdon was born in 1955 in East London, South Africa.
1972: Completed schooling and in January 1973 joined the South African Police Service in East London.
1974: Received anti-terrorist training and went on a 3-month “bush war” camp in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).
Served in the SAPS Uniform Branch, as a Detective and undercover SANAB (Drug Squad) member.
1977: In September became a member of the Security Branch (SB) – the “elite” political wing of the SAPS.
With a “Top Secret” clearance, became a cryptographer (Encoding/Decoding of Top Secret messages).
After a spate of bombings in the Eastern Cape, became the key witness in Ciskei’s first ANC “Terrorist Trial” which resulted in four convictions and imprisonment.
1979: Transferred to Oshakati in Owambo (Namibia), as a cryptographer for the SAPS & SA Defence Force. Played a vital (undisclosed) role in the establishment of “Koevoet,” the renowned SAPS anti-terrorist unit.
1990: After a year-long operation, led the arrest of Shirley Gunn, SA’s “Most wanted (ANC) woman.”
1994: With 20 years’ SAPS experience, resigned and became the Security/Risk Manager at an American company in Johannesburg.
Discovered the existence of a “Murder Squad” in the Bureaux of State Security (BOSS), which in the 1970’s and 1980’s was headed by Genl. H vd Bergh. At Alberton home a “warning shot” was fired to discourage any further investigation. Postponed the writing of “The Tall Assassin” until the last role played was laid to rest.
2006: Published a book “My Cryptic Life” (biography) and using the pseudonym “Donald Els Alanby” which, read backwards is: “by Alan Elsdon”.
In Cape Town became manager of the Undercover Division at an international investigation company.
2008: In the jungle of the Democratic Republic of Congo, worked undercover in a diamond investigation. Amid the strange sounds of the jungle evenings, completed my book on H vd Bergh and BOSS.
2009: After the death of the last (BOSS/Political) role player, published “The Tall Assassin” (Book exposing BOSS and unsolved political murders mostly in SA) – translated into “Die lang Generaal” (over 100,000 sold)(Publishers: Umuzi, Random House – Cape Town and currently, Groep7 – Pretoria).
2010: (Undisclosed): Shortly before the start of the FIFA World Cup, discovered a planned attack by Al Qaeda at the Cape Town soccer stadium. Relayed the information to a foreign intelligence agency. At Cape Town International airport, photographed the arrival of a group of persons from the Middle East, which included five young female “suicide bombers”. Identified supporters who transported the group to a mosque where they were housed. After foreign intelligence intervention, the SAPS took over the security duties at the Cape Town stadium. At the highest international level, a “compromise” was reached. Without incident, the group left the country and a major atrocity was averted. A few months later, my Muslim informant, whose identity was never revealed, suffered a suspicious “heart attack” and died. He had no history of any health problems.
2015 – 2016: Investigated the unsolved 2005 murder of Inge Lotz and “Knysna Murders”. Unearthed an unholy alliance between the murderers, a corrupt policeman, and members of the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory.
2017: Established the facts in the murders of Inge Lotz, Jessica Wheeler and Victoria Stadler. Commenced writing a book about the three murders, providing clues to the perpetrators, and also showing the unwillingness of the authorities to re-investigate the cases, expose the truth and arrest the true murderers.
2018: Signed a contract with an RSA film company – for the filming of “The Tall Assassin”. Completed writing the book “Broken & Betrayed: Inge Lotz” (available at selected RSA bookshops and as an E-Book).
Currently investigating two cases of “missing person’s”, one in Barrydale (SA), the second in Portugal.