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Judgement expected in Dr Hoosen Haffejee re-opened inquest

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Judgment is set to be handed down at the Pietermaritzburg High Court in the reopened inquest into the death of Dr Hoosen Haffejee next week Wednesday. Haffejee was found hanging in his cell at Brighton Beach Police Station on 3 August 1977. The apartheid police alleged he had hanged himself in detention from a grille door at the police station with his trousers. This year marks 46 years since Dr Haffejee’s death.

The 1978 inquest finding of Magistrate Trevor Blunden accepted the police statement without any inquiries or concern for improbabilities, which was not exceptional in apartheid-era inquests at the time while it remains known that the apartheid-era magistrates had no desire to reach the truth.

The Department of Justice authorised the re-opening of the inquest in 2019. This shadows the extensive advocacy efforts by the late Dr Haffajee’s family. The reopened inquest ran from 16 August to 17 September 2021 in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.


Born on November 6, 1950, in Pietermaritzburg, Dr. Hoosen Haffejee pursued his higher education in science and dentistry in India after completing his matriculation in 1965. He later returned to South Africa in 1976 and secured a position at the King George V Hospital in Durban.

Dr. Haffejee continued to be involved in politics after returning to South Africa and became friends with a nurse who collaborated with him at the hospital. Unfortunately, their relationship did not go as planned, and the nurse reported Dr. Haffejee to the Security Branch of the South African Police, becoming an informant for them. As a result, Dr Haffejee was under police surveillance. Unbeknownst to Haffejee, he was under surveillance for several months before he was apprehended on 2 August 1977, on his way to work. Haffejee was arrested by members of the Special Branch of the South African Police including James Taylor and PL Du Toit.

Documents advocating a revolution to establish a socialist system were discovered in his possession, and he was arrested on suspicion of planning to sabotage the State. Dr Haffejee was taken to Durban’s Brighton Beach Police Station, where he was interrogated and tortured.

On 3 August 1977, the 26-year-old was found in a seated position, with his pants wrapped around his throat. Hanging from the bars of his prison cell. It was reported that his body had sustained severe injuries. Police officers responsible for his arrest claimed that he committed suicide in fear of imprisonment. The family believed that he was brutally tortured and killed.

Photo: Foundation for Human Rights


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