Home National Court Ruling Overturns Suicide Finding in Historic Case of Dr. Hoosen Haffejee’s Death

Court Ruling Overturns Suicide Finding in Historic Case of Dr. Hoosen Haffejee’s Death

by Central News Reporter
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Court Ruling Overturns Suicide Finding in Historic Case of Dr. Hoosen Haffejee's Death

The Pietermaritzburg High Court: A Milestone in the Search for Justice

The Pietermaritzburg High Court has overturned the long-standing belief that the death of anti-apartheid activist Dr. Hoosen Haffejee in August 1977 was a suicide. This verdict contradicts the findings of the original inquest, which concluded that Dr. Haffejee’s death was self-inflicted.

Dr. Haffejee, a prominent figure in the Durban anti-apartheid movement, tragically lost his life while in police custody at the Brighton Beach police station. He had been detained by Special Branch officers who suspected his involvement in the struggle against apartheid.

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The initial inquest, held under the government’s jurisdiction, found that there was no one to blame for Dr. Haffejee’s death and attributed it to a possible case of hanging due to his trousers being twisted around his neck. However, following subsequent investigations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) deemed it necessary to reopen the inquest.

Under the joint efforts of the NPA and DPCI, this reopened inquest presented new and compelling evidence to the court. Judge Zaba Nkosi thoroughly examined the testimonials of medical experts, who disputed the suicide verdict, as well as the accounts of other detainees who also endured interrogations by the South African Police Security Branch. Additionally, an expert inspection of the scene reconstructed the circumstances surrounding Dr. Haffejee’s death.

Judge Nkosi, on overturning the initial inquest’s findings, denounced it as pitiful, sub-standard, and biased. He reached the conclusion that Dr. Haffejee’s death was not self-inflicted, but rather staged as a suicide to mask the true cause: death under torture.

As part of his recommendations, Judge Nkosi held the surviving members of the police security branch and other implicated individuals responsible for Dr. Haffejee’s tragic death. Senior State Advocate Denardo MacDonald passionately represented the NPA throughout these inquest proceedings, emphasizing the quest for justice and accountability.

The NPA wholeheartedly welcomes the momentous ruling of the inquest court, with appreciation for the support received from other stakeholders. This significant development underscores the NPA’s commitment to the principles of truth and reconciliation, as it strives to address the atrocities committed during the apartheid era and secure justice for the victims and their families.

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