Cape Town – As the reopened inquest into the death of Imam Abdullah Haron comes to a close, the family’s call is for justice to be served.
The inquest has been adjourned to early next year when closing arguments will be heard in the Western Cape High Court.
The two-week inquest wrapped up on Wednesday afternoon, presided over by Judge Daniel Thulare.
Haron’s youngest daughter, Fatima Haron-Masoet, called for each person responsible for his death to be held accountable.
Haron-Masoet had read into the record this week what it was that the family wanted to come from the inquest 53 years after her father had died in what is believed to have been a torturous death at the hands of the Security Branch (SB) during the apartheid regime.
Haron-Masoet said the first inquest in 1970 remained highly problematic and “unquestionably inaccurate”.
“Second, that the furnished tangible evidence that the imam ‘fell from the staircase’ caused his death is not only a pack of legal lies but they are outrageously absurd. Third, that each of the SB members who were involved in his death be – posthumously or not – found guilty of intentional torture and calculated murder.”
“Fourth, that all the stakeholders such as the judiciary and the medical team be posthumously stripped of their qualifications for having compromised their oaths of honesty since they reached totally unacceptable decisions and in addition to that, their acts, it should be publicly pronounced (that it) amounted to unprofessional conduct that is punishable,” said Haron-Masoet.
In her affidavit, Haron-Masoet also said the family implored the judge to “help restore, if not full then at least some sort of justice that has been missing for much of our lives”.
During the inquest hearing, one of the witnesses Johannes Burger – the last surviving apartheid police officer involved in the imam’s detention and stationed at Maitland in 1969 when the imam was found dead – conceded that the version of the Special Branch that Haron had fallen down the stairs was untrue and that “he was tortured”.
Burger had also confirmed that the SB had Haron detained at the Maitland station in solitary confinement to conceal what was happening to him during his 123-day detention under the Terrorism Act.
In response to Burger’s testimony, Haron’s son, Muhammed Haron, said: “One’s feeling is that he was fumbling his way although he gave evidence and I think he wanted to protect his own self against those who might take revenge … whoever is still around.
“And so, in a sense, he was somehow still living in the past …fearful of any repercussions in terms of his statement.
“But as an elderly gentleman, knowing that we all have to die at some point, he was wanting to come clean. So, he is in between the two but not brave enough to stand his ground and clearly spell out (what happened). He is clearly still caught between the past and the present.
We just want someone like him to be clear what he saw and how he saw my father,” said Haron.