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Haron family closer to justice as closing arguments in inquest wrap in High Court

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By Aneeqa du Plessis

After more than 53 years, the Haron family are now one-step closer to hearing the truth in their father’s death. This comes as closing arguments in Imam Abdullah Haron’s reopened inquest were wrapped up in the Cape High Court yesterday.

The anti-apartheid activist was detained for 123 days, interrogated daily and kept in solitary confinement without trail until his demise in 1969. The initial 1970 inquest alleged that Haron fell down a flight of stairs during police custody and thus nobody was to blame for his death. This despite Haron’s body having over 25 dissimilar bruises and a broken rib that could not be attributed to a fall.

According to the counsel representing the Haron family, the abuse that he endured was not an isolated incident and several other freedom fighters including women and children were subjected to the brutal assault.

“Torture, extra-judicial killings, and cover-ups were the order of the day during the regime. The killing of the Imam is indeed a crime against humanity,” explained Webber Wentzel’s Advocate Howard Varney.

He further stated the initial investigation into his death was ‘anything but impartial’.

The reopened inquest began on the 7th of November last year and continued for 10 days.

Forensic Pathologist Dr Steve Naidoo who took to the stand during the latest inquest said the entire autopsy and post-mortem was of subpar standard.

“The untimely death of Imam Abdullah Haron was due to ongoing assaults that his body had endured over the 120 days in detention,” described Naidoo.

Furthemore, Dr Naidoo said if not for the assaults, Haron could have lived for several years after.

Both the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the counsel representing the Haron family have sung the same tune in that Haron was killed at the hands of the apartheid security police. NPA advocate Lifa Matyobeni called on presiding judge, Daniel Thulare to right the wrongs of the past.

“The attempt by the apartheid security branch to shield the injuries acquired by the Imam led them to creating the refrain that he fell down a flight of stairs that led to his death,” said Matyobeni during his closing arguments.

Speaking to VOC News outside the courtroom, niece Zainal Makda who spent the better part of her youth living with the Imam said she is satisfied that the world will finally know the truth behind the death of her beloved uncle.

“These proceedings have reinforced our thoughts that had he not been taken by the apartheid police he would have lived to see the falling of the regime. However, we are proud to be the progeny of a great hero who died for our freedom. He did not die in vain, and we know the outcome of this case will inspire hope in the families who have also lost their loved ones in the struggle,” said an emotional Makda.

Judgement in the matter was reserved by Judge Thulare and a verdict is expected soon.


Photo: VOCfm

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