A fantasist whose ambition was to become a homosexual mass murderer, Ronald Cooper wrote in his diary in March, 1976, that he wanted to rape and murder “30 boys and six girls.” That same month he tried to abduct two 10-year-old boys, but they fled.

Two months later he successfully kidnapped Mark Garnet, 12, near the boy’s home in the Berea area of Johannesburg. He took Mark to a block of flats, tied him up and started to strangle him with a rope. Then he pulled down the boy’s trousers and raped him. When he untied the rope from the boy’s neck his victim was already dead.

Cooper, 26, was caught when he tried to abduct another boy in a park – one who happened to be a friend of Mark Garnet. The boy had escaped from Cooper and gone to the police, he later recognised the killer while being taken around the area in a police car.

Police recovered Cooper’s diary from his apartment. He had written: “I shall not kill all the boys the same way. Some I shall strangle with my hands. Other boys I shall strangle with a piece of cord or rope. Others again I shall stab to death and others I shall cut their throats. I can also suffocate or smother other boys…”

Cooper was hanged on Monday, January 16th, 1978, in Pretoria Central Prison, where all executions in South Africa had taken place since 1935. He was one of the 132 men hanged in the country in that year, and he was the only white man among them.