Calls mount to reopen all inquests into deaths of activists

Cape Town – A strong call will be made at the anniversary of the death in detention of Imam Abdullah Haron, for the reopening of all inquests into the deaths of all political activists who died in police custody during apartheid.

The commemoration will be held today at the District Six Museum which will also see the launch of the Imam Haron Foundation. The foundation is aimed at hosting series of commemoration events to honour the legacy and memory of those who fought for justice and democracy.

Haron died at the hands of the security police in Caledon Square in Cape Town in September 1969. The Muslim cleric was 45 years old when detained and kept in solitary confinement for 123 days before he died.

At the time, the official apartheid government inquest into his death ruled that he died after falling down a flight of stairs. To date, no one has been implicated or arrested in connection with his mysterious death.

Speaking on behalf of the families and the foundation, Cassim Khan said the move followed information that had come to light recently in the probe into the death of Struggle activist Ahmed Timol, who died in detention in John Vorster Square in Gauteng.

“We call on the NPA to reopen all inquest dockets of all those who died in detention. The government should first issue a public apology for the delay and speedily appoint an inquiry into who was responsible for the delays, allowing perpetrators to get away due to death and age,” he said.

“Open all apartheid police records around every incident, and publicly state which cases will be opened.”

Khan also demanded that the government set up a time frame of completion of the inquiry, and resource it well. “We will educate the public on the lmam Haron programme of transcending religious, political, and racial barriers.

“We want to keep the focus squarely on social justice – 25 years into democracy, only a few enjoy the benefits and the majority continue to carry the burden.”

Meanwhile, the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) commemorating the 37th year of the death in detention of Dr Neil Aggett, a forerunner of the current union.

The union called on the Hawks to investigate those who murdered Dr Aggett and for the National Prosecuting Authority to prosecute the perpetrators.

Aggett was detained with his partner, Elizabeth Floyd, by the security police on November 27, 1981.

He died after 70 days in detention without trial on February 5, 1982 at John Vorster prison, the same detention centre from where Ahmed Timol fell to his death.

At the original inquest into his death, security police records concluded that Dr Aggett committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell.

Fawu spokesperson Domique Martin said: “Those behind the murder of Dr Agget are not only roaming the streets but are making security and other businesses with the state-owned companies The Hawks must investigate.”

Former apartheid-era policeman Joao Rodrigues, 80, is standing trial for the murder of Timol.

Cape Argus

104974923 - Calls mount to reopen all inquests into deaths of activists

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