Family’s wait for justice almost over as Haron judgment reserved

Closing arguments were heard by Judge Daniel Thulare in the Imam Haron inquest. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Closing arguments were heard by Judge Daniel Thulare in the Imam Haron inquest. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 26, 2023


Cape Town - Judgment has been reserved in the reopened inquest into the death of Imam Abdullah Haron, with the slain martyr’s family saying they looked forward to the outcome.

Closing arguments were heard by Judge Daniel Thulare this week.

Advocate Howard Varney, representing the Haron family, said it was their submission that Haron was subjected to relentless torture while in detention, and was denied medical attention, leading to his death.

“Those involved in the torture, and who decided to deny him medical attention, murdered Imam. We have asked this honourable court to make that finding,” he said.

Haron’s son, Muhammad Haron, said they awaited Thulare’s verdict with optimism.

“We are pleased with the closing arguments and look forward to the judgment. We are also pleased that the State advocate’s arguments complemented those of the family’s lawyer,” he said.

Testimonies from retired police officer Johannes Burger, who was on duty when Haron’s body was found in his cell, and two district surgeons – Dr Viviers and Dr Gosling, who attended to Haron while in detention, as well as Chief State Pathologist of Cape Town, Theodor Schwär – came under sharp scrutiny from Varney this week.

Burger had claimed he had no knowledge of Haron’s torture, while Viviers and Gosling were reported to have failed to probe Haron’s injuries.

Dr Schwär, who conducted the post mortem, said Haron’s bruises were “not of a serious nature”.

“Those at the Maitland police station who were not involved in the torture, or the decision to stop him from being medically treated, such as former constable Burger, but who saw the dire condition of the imam, and nonetheless did not take steps to get him medical attention, acted with reckless disregard.

“The State medical officers, doctors Viviers and Gosling, who could have stepped in to save Haron, chose not to do so. Then along came the Chief State Pathologist of Cape Town, Dr Schwar, a man in our view utterly lacking in backbone and courage,” Varney said.

State advocate Lifa Matyobeni, in his closing arguments, said the failure on the part of the State at the time could not be denied.

“There can be no question that the voice of the detainees and those of his next of kin were not heard in the initial inquest.

“We respectfully submit that the witnesses’ version in the 1970 inquest contains discrepancies and improbabilities. In the Security Branch’s version, it is palpable that attempts to cover up and try create an explanation of the falling down stairs incident took place. A blanket denial of assaults is given by them, yet this cannot explain the multiple injuries noted on Haron’s body. It follows, with respect, that this court must reject their version,” Matyobeni said.

Cape Times