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Call for apartheid-era politicians and officials to account for killings of activists

The annual Imam Haron Memorial Lecture occurs to commemorate the anniversary of the Imam’s killing in police detention by the apartheid regime. Picture: Haron Foundation

The annual Imam Haron Memorial Lecture occurs to commemorate the anniversary of the Imam’s killing in police detention by the apartheid regime. Picture: Haron Foundation

Published Sep 28, 2021

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Cape Town - Human rights activists have called for apartheid-era politicians and officials to account for their involvement in the killings of anti-apartheid activists.

The call was made by national Imam Haron Foundation (IHF) coordinator Cassiem Khan with regard to Monday night’s annual Imam Haron Memorial Lecture to commemorate the anniversary of the Imam’s killing in police detention by the apartheid regime.

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The police alleged that the Imam had conspired with terrorists to overthrow the government. He was held for four months, a period of 123 days. Despite constant interrogation and beatings, he refused to release the names and details of his comrades.

Khan said: “The IHF is currently engaged in a campaign to reopen the investigation into Imam Haron’s death and the deaths of other activists who died in detention during the 1960s.

“The IHF is hopeful that the case of the imam will be reopened soon despite all known perpetrators having passed on. Setting the record straight is important for the family. The apartheid-era findings of death due to a fall down the stairs is a lie, and the truth of his murder will prevail,” said Khan.

The topic of the lecture was: "Amnesty. What Amnesty? De Klerk must face the law for atrocities"

Khan said that the IHF chose the topic in order to assert that there was no moral equivalency in the actions of the apartheid security forces and those of the liberation movements.

He said that following the NPA’s decision to reopen apartheid-era crimes and to act on the 300 cases referred to them by the TRC, the moral equivalency position had been taken by AfriForum.

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The event’s moderator, Muslim Views editor Farid Sayed, said that since 2020, the direction of the talks changed from its focus on education to highlighting the pursuit of justice for victims of apartheid-era crimes, with a specific focus on the deaths in detention, assassinations and South African Defence Force raids.

One of the two speakers on Monday night was African Court on Human and People's Rights judge Dumisa Ntsebeza. The judge rose to prominence in the 1990s as Commissioner and Head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s investigative unit.

The other speaker was journalist and son of one of the Cradock Four leaders, Lukhanyo Calata.

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In July this year Calata launched an application to compel the NPA to bring to book the 1985 murderers of his father Fort Calata, Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli.

The legal application cited former apartheid president FW de Klerk as a respondent and said he could provide insight into the informal agreement that some crimes and violations of human rights during the oppressive regime would not be brought to court.

On Monday night Calata said Imam Haron’s bravery inspires his fight for justice for his father and his comrades.

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He urged national Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi to prosecute former president de Klerk with immediate effect and said: “There should never be amnesty for murder. Not even when there is full disclosure.”

Judge Ntsebeza wrote a supporting affidavit in which he urged the president to appoint a commission of inquiry and said that the government was failing to prosecute known persecutors.

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