SA's top forensic investigator on 'Bird Island' author case
David Klatzow worked on high-profile cases like Brett Kebble, Ashley Kriel
South Africa’s top forensic sleuth is in Port Elizabeth to investigate the mysterious death of Mark Minnie, the co-author of The Lost Boys of Bird Island.
Dr David Klatzow flew in last night at the request of Minnie’s family. Minnie, 58, was found dead on Monday at a friend’s Theescombe farm on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth with a gunshot wound to the head.
His death came just over a week after the book, exposing an alleged paedophile ring involving top-ranking apartheid-era cabinet members, which he co-authored with journalist Chris Steyn, was published. One minister is still alive.Police found Minnie’s body near a tree‚ a pistol nearby – which did not belong to him – and a note at the scene. Gunshot residue samples were taken from Minnie’s hands to determine whether it was suicide.
A bullet wound to the head has been the common denominator linking alleged suicides three decades apart that silenced three people with intimate knowledge of the alleged paedophile ring.
In at least two of the three apparent suicides‚ people close to the victims said they would not have taken their own life.Port Elizabeth businessman Dave Allen and apartheid-era environment minister John Wiley were found dead within weeks of each other with gunshot head wounds in 1987.
This was shortly after Minnie‚ then a policeman‚ arrested Allen on charges of sex with minors and possession of child pornography. The book claims Allen “sang like a canary” and named a “powerful cabinet minister”.
Klatzow, who told the Dispatch he was approaching the case with an open mind, has worked on several of SA’s most sensational cases including the assisted suicide of mining magnate Brett Kebble, the death of MK operative Ashley Kriel, the police massacre of the Gugulethu 7 and the Helderberg plane crash. He is set to meet with Minnie’s co-author Chris Steyn in Port Elizabeth.
Minnie, a former narcotics police officer in PE, was teaching English in China and came to SA for the launch of the book. The alleged abuse of boys on Bird Island in the 80s was “receiving attention” from police, said national police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo on Wednesday – though without confirming the case was reopened.The book claimed that three former National Party ministers, including former defence minister Magnus Malan, had been central figures in the ring.
Police spokesperson Captain Johan Rheeder said nothing appeared to have been stolen from Minnie. The gun used to kill Minnie belonged to the friend with whom he had been staying, Brent Barnes.
Asked if the specialist Trio Task Team would taking over the case, Rheeder said it would remain with the station-level detectives for now as it was still deemed to be an inquest.
Tafelberg Publishers said Minnie had “successfully followed up on several leads in Port Elizabeth during the past week and was determined to reveal further information”.
The publishers said he was looking forward to an upcoming book festival and there had been no indication that he would harm himself...