There is now a glimmer of hope that siblings Sara Lall and Ishmail Haffejee can find closure after they were told last week that Minister of Justice Michael Masutha had signed the order recommending the inquest into their brother’s death be reopened.
Haffejee, a 26-year-old dentist at Durban’s St George V hospital and an anti-apartheid activist from Pietermaritzburg, died on August 3 in 1977 at the Brighton Police Station in Durban - 20 hours after being arrested by security police under the Terrorism Act. Captains James Taylor and Piet du Toit and several other operatives of the special branch arrested him on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the state.
Despite multiple injuries covering his back, knees, arms and head, magistrate Trevor Blunden - who presided over the inquest in 1978 - ruled that Haffejee had committed suicide.
The police claimed that he hanged himself with his trousers by tying them to the grille door in his cell - a claim the family does not believe.