Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The gun found lying next to author Mark Minnie’s body late on Monday is said to belong to his friend and former police colleague Brent Barnes.

A suicide note was also found at the Theescombe small-holding where he was staying.

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

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

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

By Monday evening, a friend contacted Barnes asking if they had seen Minnie as she was struggling to get hold of him. "The owner [Barnes] then went to look for him. They searched the house and could not find him, which is when they went to search the surrounding area. At this stage it appears there is no foul play. However, investigations are ongoing," Rheeder said.

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

Barnes declined to comment, saying the media should not contact him again.

Minnie worked for the police’s narcotics bureau in Port Elizabeth in the 1980s. The book he co-authored, The Lost Boys of Bird Island, implicates two powerful apartheid officials and a businessperson in an alleged paedophile ring.

Officials have since rejected the book’s claims.

Marianne Thamm, who wrote the foreword, noted on Facebook: "I worked with both Mark and Chris and I am devastated by this. I know he was terrified for his life and that there are many who lurk in the shadows who would benefit from his death..."