Dr Hoosen Haffejee tortured to death by apartheid government, court rules
Dr Haffejee died a torturous death when he was found hanging in his cell at Brighton Beach Police Station on 3 August, 1977.
Sarah Lall and Ishmail Haffejee with a photograph of their brother, Hoosen, who died while in police detention in 1977. Picture: Foundation for Human Rights
The Pietermaritzburg High Court has ruled that the August 1977 death of Dr Hoosen Mia Haffejee was not self-inflicted, in contradiction to the finding of an initial inquest held in this regard.
This comes 46 years after Haffejee died a torturous death when he was found hanging in his cell at Brighton Beach Police Station on August 3, 1977 at the hands of the apartheid government.
Following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an inquest into his death found that his death was self-inflicted.
However, on Wednesday, Judge Zaba Nkosi overturned that decision following evidence by medical experts who testified that Dr Hoosen Haffejee likely died due to a cardiac incident from being strangled.
In reaching his decision, Judge Nkosi also considered the testimonies of other detainees who also endured interrogations by the SA Police Security Branch, and an inspection in loco of the crime scene, where an expert had reconstructed the scene.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said Judge Nkosi concluded Haffejee’s death was not self-inflicted and recommended surviving members of the police security branch and others be held responsible for Haffejee’s death.
“The NPA welcomes the findings of the inquest court. This is an example of the NPA’s TRC component’s, efforts in addressing the atrocities of apartheid crimes and getting justice for the victims and their families.
“This reopened inquest was at the behest of a joint effort by the NPA and the DPCI (Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation). The support of other stakeholders is appreciated,” said Ramkisson-Kara.
Haffejee was detained by the Special Branch police officers on suspicion of his involvement in anti-apartheid activities.
Following an interrogation at the police station, he was found deceased in a cell, with his trousers twisted around his neck, suggesting a possible “hanging”.
An inquest held by the government at the time ruled that nobody could be held liable for Haffejee’s death and the cause of his death was likely self-inflicted.