Imam Haron Foundation chairperson Cassiem Khan, left, with Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport head Brent Walters, unveil the Imam Abdullah Haron Exhibition with the apartheid martyr’s daughters, Shamela Shamis and Fatima Masoet-Haron, at the Dulcie September Civic Centre in Athlone. Photo: Dominic Adriaanse
Cape Town – The Imam Abdullah Haron exhibition, which will be hosted at various museums in the province, was unveiled at the Dulcie September Civic Centre in Athlone yesterday.

Haron’s daughters, Shamela Shamis and Fatima Masoet-Haron, attended the unveiling, which coincided with the 42nd anniversary of the death of Black Consciousness Movement leader Steve Bantu Biko.

Both activists died while in the custody of the security police.

The event was jointly hosted by the Imam Haron Foundation and the provincial Cultural Affairs and Sport Department, as part of the 50th commemoration of the Muslim cleric’s martyrdom.

Shamis, who lives in the US and returned to be part of the commemorations, as well as be here for her frail, 93-year-old mother, said she was overwhelmed and humbled by the foundation and department’s efforts to help keep her father’s legacy and memory alive for future generations.

Her sister, Masoet-Haron, said she shared the loss felt by Biko’s son, Nkosinathi, who, like her, never had the privilege of growing up with his father.

“That is why it’s important to keep the memories of those who sacrificed their lives for a democratic society, as those who may remember them won’t be with us for much longer.

“It is also important to impart these histories on to our youth, to inspire them to create an even better society.”

The Haron family has joined with other families of apartheid martyrs to call on the government to reopen inquests into the deaths of their loved ones and finally bring them closure.

High Court Judge Siraj Desai said the death of Haron remained a blight on South Africa’s legal system.

“The former leadership in this province would have us believe that colonialism gave us a rich and impartial judiciary; it also left us with a disgraceful judiciary.

“A judiciary that was complicit in the crimes against humanity. A post-mortem revealed that imam Haron died horrendously and it showed that he was tortured.”

He added that society had to place pressure on Justice Minister Michael Masutha and National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi to reopen inquests into the deaths of the imam, Biko, Ashley Kriel and other apartheid martyrs.

Provincial Cultural Affairs and Sport Department head Brent Walters said the foundation had approached them in January to find out how they could assist in commemorating Haron’s life.

“We called the various directors and looked at how we could honour the anti-apartheid cleric and editor of the Muslim News.

“One aspect was by declaring his grave site in Mowbray Muslim Cemetery a provincial heritage site.”

The exhibition will be on display at the Al-Jamia Masjid in Stegman Road, Claremont, the imam’s base of operations for 15 years ,before visiting 30 museums in the province, presented with archived images and text in the three official languages of the province.

Imam Haron Foundation chairperson Cassiem Khan said the exhibition should be used as a way to reflect upon not just on the life of Haron, but whether today’s society reflects the one envisioned by himself and other freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives.

Cape Times