Schoeman (77) died on Monday night in the Noorderbloem old age home in Bloemfontein, where he lived for the past ten years, Cap reports.
In a statement signed by the author on 27 April and handed to his lawyer, Carl van Rensburg, he says that he has decided to "voluntarily cease the use of food and drink and end his life through a process of so-called mortification, which in practice comes down to dehydration".
Van Rensburg said it is still unclear how Schoeman took his own life. "Not even the doctor knows how it happened. An autopsy will be done to determine how it happened."
Schoeman wrote: "With the necessary knowledge or contacts other ways out are, however, to be found even within the current limitations, and of these I could ultimately make use with the necessary gratitude."
According to the statement, Schoeman decided years ago to "end his own life timeously or at least try to end it". He never wanted to be old.
"An attempt at 75 was thwarted by circumstance, and in the meantime I've turned 77: It is therefore necessary to approach the matter purposefully," he wrote in the opening paragraph of the letter.
According to Van Rensburg Schoeman will be cremated. "That is how he wanted it. It will then be strewn at an unknown place."
Schoeman ended his letter by saying he hopes his death will contribute to the "problem of old age", as well as the "general issue of autonomy, being more openly discussed than is currently the case".
"And above all that it will help bring about a change in the current South African legislation in terms of autonomy."
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