Mark Minnie
Image: Supplied

The death of a Port Elizabeth ex-policeman and co-author of a new bombshell book has left his associates shocked and burning with questions over what is initially being treated as a suicide.

News of the death of Mark Minnie – who was back in his former home city and staying with a friend – spread like wildfire and triggered a flurry of incredulous reaction from close acquaintances, who said they did not believe he would take his own life and that he feared for his safety.

This is in the wake of the publication this month of his exposé The Lost Boys of Bird Island, which he co-authored with Chris Steyn.

The book contains explosive claims of an apartheid-era paedophile ring involving top National Party cabinet ministers who molested underage boys on the Algoa Bay island.

The gun – found lying next to Minnie’s body late on Monday on the Theescombe smallholding where he was staying – is believed to belong to the property owner, former police colleague and friend of Minnie Brent Barnes.

A suicide note was discovered on the scene.

Minnie, 58, was found by Barnes shortly before 9pm near a bush at the back of the property, Theescombe Roses in Venter Avenue, near several dilapidated greenhouses.

Police spokesperson Captain Johan Rheeder said Minnie had arrived to stay with Barnes on Monday.

“He went there on Monday morning asking to stay for a few days stating that he want to get out of the city for a short while to relax,” he said.

“He went there on Monday morning asking to stay for a few days stating that he want to get out of the city for a short while to relax,” he said.

“During the course of the day the owner of the farm went out and continued his daily work. Later in the day, a farmworker heard a gunshot and reported it to the owner. However, he did not think anything of it.”

By Monday evening, a woman friend contacted Barnes asking if they had seen Minnie as she was struggling to get hold of him. After an extensive search Barnes found the body at about 8.50pm near a tree with a pistol lying nearby.

“At this stage it appears there is no foul play. However, investigations are ongoing.

“If foul play is evident, the case will change to murder.

“However, at this stage it remains an inquest.”

Questioned about the owner of the firearm, Rheeder said it did not belong to Minnie.

“We are investigating how he came into possession of a firearm – ownership is subject to investigation,” he said.

Police officials with inside knowledge of the case said the firearm was believed to be registered to Barnes.

Gunshot residue samples were taken from Minnie’s hands to determine if he fired the shot.

Asked if a suicide note was found, Rheeder said a note was found on the scene but declined to elaborate.

By Tuesday afternoon Rheeder said a docket of failing to safeguard the firearm would be opened for investigation into to how Minnie got hold of the gun.

Barnes declined to comment when contacted, and said the media should not contact him again.

A friend and former police colleague, who declined to be named, said he was meant to meet him over the weekend.

“He was a hard worker, but also played hard.

“He believed in this case and said he had more information that would shock everyone,” he said.

“I do not believe he would have taken his own life.

“I am aware that he had photographic evidence that he kept with him and did not want to publish it.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here