International character witnesses to testify in Haffejee ’suicide’ trial
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Johannesburg - The reopened inquest into the August 1977 death of Pietermaritzburg-born dentist Dr Hoosen Haffejee is on Wednesday expected to hear testimony from three character witnesses, two of them internationally-based.
Haffejee was found hanging from the grille door of cell number two of the Brighton Beach police station on August 3, 1977 after he had been arrested on August 1 by Security Branch members, including the late Lieutenant James Taylor and Captain Petrus du Toit, with a 1978 inquest into his death, led by magistrate Trevor Blunden, declaring his death a suicide.
The inquest is now into its second week and has already seen Haffejee’s two remaining siblings, Ismail Haffejee and Sarah Bibi Lall, who testified before the Pietermaritzburg High Court, where the inquest is being heard.
The two siblings, alongside an aeronautical engineer, Thivash Moodley, rejected the findings of the 1978 inquest into Haffejee’s death, presided over by magistrate Trevor Blunden, that the then 26 year-old doctor had committed suicide by hanging himself.
Anwar Suleman Jessop, legal representative for the Haffejee family at the inquest, said that the three witnesses expected to deliver virtual testimony before Judge ZP Nkosi are from India, Wales and Cape Town.
“They are character witnesses and they are the few character witnesses that we have left, and they will be able to testify on various aspects and their relationship with the doctor. On Thursday we will get to the forensic analysis of the evidence,” Jessop said.
Yesterday the inquest had been scheduled to hear virtual testimony from another three witnesses, based in London, Cape Town and Johannesburg, however due to ill health they were unable to proceed with their testimonies.
“They’re elderly people and they weren’t feeling very well, and when we asked them about their availability they said to us that they don’t have a problem with us handing in their affidavits to be part of the records, so that’s what we have done eventually,” Jessop said.