Mark Minnie laid to rest amid emotional outpourings
Against the backdrop of a large portrait and a flower wreath emblazoned with the word “Legend”, former Port Elizabeth detective Mark “Mad Max” Minnie was memorialised at an emotionally charged service in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
More than 100 people, including family members, friends and scores of former police narcotics unit members and a substantial media contingent, rose to their feet as a bugler sounded out The Last Post, signalling the start of the service for the man who co-authored the explosive exposé The Lost Boys of Bird Island.
During the memorial service at the Dutch Reformed PE West church hall in Newton Park, Minnie’s children said they had accepted and even respected his decision to end his life but did not see it as a cowardly act.
Minnie, 58, who exposed an alleged paedophile ring involving top-ranking apartheid-era cabinet members with journalist Chris Steyn, was found on Monday night last week at a friend’s farm in Theescombe.
He had a gunshot wound to the head and a firearm was found lying next to his body.
His death has not yet been ruled a suicide by authorities.
Most commonly hailed as a hero, legend, courageous and by all accounts a loving, doting father, Minnie’s character, life, work and interests were laid bare by his closest family and friends.
The largely informal proceedings were led by Benade’ Kruger – a man who had built a closer relationship with Minnie over the past two years.
Kruger, like many of the other speakers, spoke candidly of Minnie’s “naughty, mischievous nature”, describing the detective as one who worked hard and played hard – and as one who enjoyed a double J&B and soda.
Opening up about his relationship with his father, Mark Jnr said he felt like he had been stripped bare with his death.
“I have never felt so much pain. You were the rock we stood on. I am nothing without you,” he said.
“I know you are proud of me, but I wish I could make you prouder,” he said.
“You taught me to be a man and a Minnie. I will never fully understand but I will respect your decision, but this was not a cowardly act.”
Minnie’s daughter, Brooklyn, also gave a moving eulogy, labelling her father as brave, loving and crazy.
“You were one of the bravest people I know. You taught us not to back down. You went out of your way to make the family happy.”
She said it did not make sense why her father had to die.
“But I will respect your decision,” she said.
Sherry-Lee Booyens, who was Minnie’s step-daughter, said while Minnie had not been her biological father, he was the only father she had ever known.
“You were the only man that stepped up. I am so grateful for the genuine people who loved you.
“You taught us how to have a backbone.”
Minnie’s sister Vanessa Tagg recalled their childhood and his ability to be larger than life.
“I was never Vanessa Minnie, I was always Mark Minnie’s sister, but I was happy to be just that,” she said.
Bird Island – the scene of the alleged atrocities – was a popular fishing spot in the 80s, with dozens of people visiting every month.
Minnie and Steyn named cabinet ministers, including the apartheid government’s second most powerful strongman, General Magnus Malan, in the book.
Businessman and police reservist Dave Allen, who Minnie had arrested on child pornography charges and who is believed to have been part of the same ring, also died in an apparent suicide in 1987.
This was a few weeks before then environmental affairs and tourism minister John Wiley also died in an apparent suicide.
Wiley and Allen were named as part of the alleged paedophile ring by Minnie.
A third minister was unnamed, but Barend du Plessis – who was finance minister in PW Botha’s cabinet – released a statement a week after the release of the book.
He said he was “apparently the third and up to now unidentified minister who is still alive” that the book refers to.
But Du Plessis denied his involvement or knowing anything about the allegations in the book, according to Rapport.
The book makes bombshell claims about the abuse of boys and subsequent attempts to cover up the scandal.
The boys were allegedly flown to the island by defence force helicopters on the instructions of those behind the alleged sex ring.
It is claimed they were taken to the island under the guise of fishing expeditions.
Speaking after the service, Steyn said she was now looking for justice for the victims.
“Mark’s voice has gone but I am still here. We will continue to be the voice they never had.
“In the days leading up to his death there were events that coerced him into taking his own life.
“I believe he had a very good reason and it was possibly to protect other people,” she said.
Steyn said the Foundation of Human Rights had since started an investigation into the allegations contained in the book.