CHRIS LOUW, veteran journalist and columnist, famous for writing the "Boetman" letter, shot himself under the chin with an AK-47, writes Virgina Keppler in Beeld.

He'd been dead for hours when his friend and fellow journalist Foeta Krige discovered his rain-soaked body in an old aviary near a compost heap on Louw's smallholding at De Wildt, near Hartbeespoort.

The news of the fiery Louw's suicide was met with countrywide shock and disbelief on Tuesday.

"That was the last thing I would've expected of him," said a sad Krige on Tuesday at the scene, as Louw's body was being removed.

One provocative mystery is where Louw got hold of the AK-47. Beeld has heard that in a last letter to his family, Louw wrote that he'd found an AK-47 in a bag on his smallholding a while back. He hadn't told anyone about it.

Recently Louw wrote regularly in Beeld and Rapport about the serious crime problem in the area where he lives.

Made arrangements for wife

Krige, executive director of Monitor/Spektrum, found a letter addressed to Louw's wife, Johanita, at the scene.

"In the letter he'd made certain arrangements about what she should do and who she should contact," said Krige.

In the same letter, Louw apparently wrote about a recent family argument that had upset him a lot.

In 2000, he unleashed a countrywide debate with his "Boetman" letter, in which he expressed the frustrations of middle-aged white men, who felt the old National Party's "patriarchs" had betrayed them by sending them to the border to fight in an unwinnable war.

Louw, who was once seen as "left", was later disillusioned to a great extent about the course the country was taking under the ANC government.

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