Government must immediately reopen inquest into Imam Haron’s death


“Moenie wurrie nie Liema, ek is nou terug.” (Don’t worry Liema, I will shortly be back.)

These were the last words martyred freedom fighter Imam Abdullah Haron uttered to his wife Galiema Sadan-Haron, as two burly boere led him from their Crawford home.

One of the pair was a feared, notorious apartheid Security Branch cop dubbed “Spyker” van Wyk.

Spyker was so named because of his torture tactic of driving metal nails under the finger nails of anti-apartheid activists he interrogated.

Poor Galiema must have been trembling in fear, leading to Haron giving her an assurance he must have known may not materialise.

Indeed, 123 days after his incarceration incommunicado, during which a post-mortem later showed he suffered over two dozen unexplained bruises and cracked ribs, with his stomach empty, the heartless cops came to tell her that her beloved was dead.

That was on September 27, 1969. Two days later on September 29, Imam Haron was laid to rest in the biggest funeral Cape Town had witnessed, attended by 40 000 mourners.

Exactly 50 years later to the day, Galiema, age 93, died yesterday and was buried.

For half a century, she kept up a sometimes lonely vigil to demand, with her children, justice for her husband, after an apartheid-era inquest ruled no one was responsible for his death.

He wasn’t tortured, beaten and kicked to death. He simply fell down less than a dozen stairs. Really?

We don’t believe that and stand by the Haron family in demanding the State reopen the inquest into his death.

It must have pained Galiema no end that a democratic government, founded by president Nelson Mandela, would drag its heels on this matter.

It is disgusting that the family has to jump through so many hoops to get justice. It is a shame, which must end now.

And not just for the Haron family, but for all those over 100 freedom-loving souls who perished in apartheid detention without trial, and whose families cry out for justice.

When Galiema was taken 50 years ago to identify the body of her husband, she said it appeared to her that half his face was in pain, but the other half was smiling, as if in triumph.

Our freedom wasn’t free. It came at an enormous price. The least our government can do is to immediately reopen the inquest into Imam Haron’s killing, and all those who suffered a similar fate, so that we can have closure.

Why is the ANC government so cruel, so two-faced?

This article first appeared in the Cape Times