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Hard to believe Mark Minnie's death was a suicide

Mark Minnie.
Mark Minnie.

An eeriness greets me as I learn Mark Minnie is dead.

That he "committed suicide". But how can this be?

The week before he had accepted my request for friendship and responded immediately to messages.

He was happy to set up an interview to speak about his explosive book, The Lost Boys Of Bird Island - co-authored with former journalist Chris Steyn.

I read the book in three hours - from cover to cover. It's an easy read - with not as much gory details as expected.

The book exposes apartheid ministers Magnus Malan, John Wiley, a third unnamed minister and businessman Dave Allen's paedophile ring.

They allegedly dehumanised young coloured and white boys by raping them at sexual orgies under the guise of fishing trips to Bird Island, the largest of the Algoa Bay Islands near Port Elizabeth.

The former policeman opens up a bit about his drinking habits, agitation with his boss and gives an explosive account of his own rape ordeal when he was only 12 years old that he had not revealed to anyone before.

On the painful experience he writes that he was raped as punishment for kissing the sister of twins, Bryce and Mickey.

"One of them manages to clamp my head and neck between his knees, holding my limp arms still at the same time. I'm staring at the ground. The other twin removes my short pants and underwear from the lower half of my body.

"We're going to f*** you silly now, you little c***," the twin behind me states breathlessly.

"What happens next causes me to cry out to God for help, begging him to make them stop. It feels like the lower half of my torso is being ripped apart. The twins switch positions, holding my limp carcass in the air. I slip into a world of darkness. No more fear nor pain. Complete nothingness.

"I am not sure how long this all lasts. But the resurgence of searing pain rouses me from unconsciousness ."

It is said that Minnie was to meet more sources this week.

But Minnie, 58, was found on his friend Brent Barnes's smallholding in Theescombe, Port Elizabeth, dead on Monday night with a single gunshot to his head. The gun belongs to Barnes and police found a suicide note.

Just like paedophile ring members Allen and Wiley who were found dead in 1987 and written off as suicides.

Close friends and relatives are adamant that Minnie, who had moved to China, would never commit suicide as a way out.

Tafelberg Publishers were too distraught to conduct interviews and released a press statement: "Last contact with Minnie was on Sunday night, but he had been out of reach since Monday morning. His cellphone had been off and he hadn't responded to e-mails."

In the week preceding his death, Minnie was excited about the publication of the book and the disclosure of allegations which had been covered up for 30 years. He said that the book was "only the beginning" towards justice for the victims told of in the book.

Minnie had talked about several new leads and was determined to reveal further evidence. He was also looking forward to Cape Town's Open Book Festival where he, Steyn and journalist Marianne Thamm were going to discuss the book.

His relative Tersia Dodo told the SABC that Minnie told them that if anything should happen to him, they must know it was done to him.

"This supposed suicide note was either written under duress, and I would like to see it to believe that it was written by Mark," she told the SABC.

The Foundation for Human Rights also wants to take up the matter on behalf of the boys of Bird Island.

Steyn, who is shattered, said it may be too late for Minnie but not for the victims.

"Mark said it was our task to have justice prevail for the victims. He would have wanted me to continue and that is exactly what I'll be doing."

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