Sarah Lall and Ishmail Haffejee with a photograph of their brother, Hoosen, who died while in police detention in 1977. Bongani Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)
Sarah Lall and Ishmail Haffejee with a photograph of their brother, Hoosen, who died while in police detention in 1977. Bongani Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)

Former Security Branch officer back on the stand over Haffejee’s death

By Samkelo Mtshali Time of article published Sep 16, 2021

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Former Security Branch police officer Mohun Gopal is expected back in the stand for the fourth day in what has been the longest cross examination in the reopened inquest into Dr Hoosen Haffejee’s death.

Gopal, a junior officer in the Security Branch around the time of Haffejee’s death on August 3, 1977 who was present during Haffejee’s interrogation at the Brighton Beach Police Station, has told the Pietermaritzburg High Court that he did not believe that Haffejee committed suicide as claimed by the Security Branch and the outcome of a 1978 inquest into his death.

He told the court that due to having sworn to abide by the official Secrets Act he was fearful of exposing the fabricated information around Haffejee’s death, as it would have led to his incarceration and eventually his death at the hands of the Security Branch’s ’killer unit’.

He told the court that they were made to fabricate information in many cases including the 1976 death of Umkhonto we Sizwe operative Joseph Mdluli in police detention, and that of anti-apartheid activist Dr Rick Turner at his home in 1978.

“I had seen the police fabricate things in other matters.

“The first inquest was one big fabrication in Dr Haffejee’s matter.

“I had to play my part in that fabrication then,” Gopal told the court this week.

Gopal’s evidence today is expected to last between 30 minutes to an hour with the evidence leaders also keen to have other witnesses put on the stand, in particular a Constable Derek Naude, who is said to be the last person to have seen Haffejee alive, is also expected to testify today.

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