Statement from the surviving family members of the late Dr Hoosen Haffejee

Family of the late Pietermaritzburg anti-apartheid activist and dentist, Dr Hoosen Haffejee have welcomed the State’s decision to re-open the inquest into their brother’s death in 1977.

Dr Haffejee died on 3 August 1977 at the Brighton Police Station in Durban, a day after being arrested by security police under the Terrorism Act. The police claimed that he hanged himself with his trousers. Despite multiple injuries covering Dr Haffejee’s back, knees, arms and head, apartheid magistrate, Mr Blunden – who presided over the inquest in 1978 – ruled that Dr Haffejee had committed suicide.

In a letter to the Natal Witness in 1978, Dr Haffejee’s mother Mrs Fatima Haffejee wrote: “I think the time has arrived for us, the blacks, to pray that God will open a door to protect our destiny from the cruel injustice of the South African Security Police. I hope our prayers are answered before it’s too late for us all. As a grieving mother I cannot forget this terrible ordeal. My heart will always cry for my son.”

Both of Dr Haffejee’s parents have subsequently passed away, leaving his siblings, Sara and Ishmael, to carry the family’s hope for justice. They were informed this week that Minister of Justice Mr Michael Masutha earlier this month signed the order recommending that the inquest be re-opened.

“The re-opening of the Timol Inquest last year has given all the families of apartheid-era victims a glimmer of hope that we too would get answers on how their loved ones were murdered by the Security Police. We are very grateful to Timol’s nephew, Imtiaz Cajee, for the support he has given us,” Sara said.

“Hoosen was the 45th political detainee to die in detention, and many more were to follow. While we are very pleased to hear that the National Prosecutions Authority is to re-open the inquest into our brother’s death, the families of others, such as Nokuthula Simelane and Nicodemus Kgoathe, continue to live with their pain.”

Details are awaited from the National Prosecution Authority on when the re-opened inquest will commence.


Distributed for the Haffejee family by Oryx Media (Benny Gool 082 5566 556 / Roger Friedman 079 8966 899).