EXPLOSIVE: Chris Steyn and Mark Minnie, co-authors of The Lost Boys of Bird Island, which lifts the lid on an alleged paedophile ring of apartheid ministers, including Magnus Malan, inset. Picture of Malan: Michael Walker

The son of author Mark Minnie, who recently co-wrote a book revealing a paedophilia ring allegedly run by former apartheid government ministers, was concerned that the explosive exposé would lead to his father’s death.

Markus Mordiac posted a congratulatory message to his father on his Facebook page nine days before Minnie was found dead at a smallholding outside Port Elizabeth on Monday night. He was found with a bullet wound to his head at a friend’s place in Theescombe. The gun he is believed to have used was next to his lifeless body.

Minnie, 58, who was based in China with his family, had been in the country on holiday and to meet sources for follow-up interviews to the exposé. He was a police officer during the apartheid era.

On August 5, Mordiac wrote how the book, The Lost Boys of Bird Island, co-written with investigative journalist Chris Steyn, had traumatised him. He at the same time praised his father’s courage to expose the apartheid ministers believed to have been abusing boys on an island near Port Elizabeth in the 1980s. The book was released this month.

“When dad finished this book, he sent me a copy. I got through the first two chapters and then stopped, with tears and a heavy heart, knowing my father was about to dive into something that could kill him,” wrote Mordiac.

“We have always had our different opinions and an opposite take on life. I never understood why he was so angry yet so protective of me while growing up. This storie (sic) really changed my perspective. I’m glad you had the courage to finally bring this out of the dark.

“My prayers go out to all the victims and I hope justice will one day be served to the wrongdoers! Love you, dad, keep your head held high! You deserve it,” he added.

Port Elizabeth police spokesperson Captain Johan Rheeder said they had opened an inquest docket into Minnie’s death. “At this stage we believed it was a case of suicide. We don’t have personal details why he was in the country or his movements and dealings while here.”

Minnie was said to have left a suicide note next to his body.

However, journalist Marianne Thamm, who wrote a foreword for the book, said it was unlikely that he had committed suicide. The two met last week.

“I spoke with him. He didn’t seem frightened or in a bad space. Until the police have properly scanned the crime scene, I think it’s a very strange thing that has happened.

“He was not a person who was afraid to talk about his feelings. When I met him he was able to talk about the feelings that he has held on to for such a long time. He was very relieved that he was able to write a book and that someone believed him.

“He was in a good space and he loved his children very much. He was determined to get justice at some point,” said Thamm.

“He was here for a book launch and he was doing some of his investigation with people who have contacted him with more evidence for the book. He met some of these people. He did fear for his life from the day he started this investigation, and that’s why he left the police service,” added Thamm.

Minnie worked as a narcotics bureau detective during the 1980s. On leaving South Africa in 2007, he worked as an English examiner for Cambridge University and the British Council in China. At the time of his death, he worked as an English teacher at a university in Guangzhou, China.

The book implicates former National Party defence minister Magnus Malan, environmental affairs minister John Wiley and a third minister, who’s still alive. It alleged Malan had used air force helicopters to take him and friends to Bird Island, where they allegedly sexually abused young coloured boys from Uitenhage.

Media24 reported that Malan’s family, as well as former colleagues, had rejected the allegations against the late military strongman.

In one visit to the island, the book states: “General Magnus Malan and co-accused took part in sex orgies with young boys during ‘fishing excursions’ - and he once inserted a pistol and shot a boy up the anus.” The boy was allegedly taken to the “white” side of a state hospital, where he was treated in secret. His family and the hospital matron were allegedly paid for their silence.