Findings of 1970 inquest into death of Imam Haron set aside

Western Cape High Court Judge Daniel Thulare handed down his judgment in the reopened inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist Imam Abdullah Haron on Monday.

The family of anti-apartheid activist, Imam Abdullah Haron, wait in the Western Cape High Court on 9 October 2023 for the outcome in the reopened inquest into their father's death. He died in police custody in 1969. A 1970 inquest found that he had died after a fall down a flight of stairs. Picture: Lindsay Dentlinger/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape High Court has overturned the findings of a 1970s inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist, Imam Abdullah Haron.

Judge Daniel Thulare said that it was evident that Haron’s injuries were as a result of repeated torture at the hands of the apartheid-era security branch and police.

Thulare said that all the officers who gave evidence in that inquest patently lied about Haron’s treatment while in custody for four months in 1969.

Judge Thulare said the injuries of Imam Haron spoke for themselves.

He said that they were inconsistent with a fall down the stairs and a subsequent heart attack.

Thulare said that Haron’s injuries pointed to torture.

"Being repeatedly punched with fists and kicked by booted feet and this relates primarily to the injuries on the chest cage."

Thulare has now ruled on a new cause of death.

"The cause of death of Imam Abdullah Haron is attributable to the accumulative effect of injuries under torture, in particular under severe systematic physiological stresses."

Thulare has rebuked the doctors who gave evidence in the 1970 inquest and said that their names would now be referred to the South African Medical and Dental Council.