THE reopened inquest into the death of Pietermaritzburg-born dentist Dr Hoosen Haffejee has also heard evidence from former Security Branch police officer Mohum Gopal, on events leading to the assassination of anti-apartheid activist Dr Rick Turner.
During his testimony this week in the Pietermaritzburg High Court’s, Gopal told Judge Zaba Nkosi, who is presiding over the inquest, that the information around Haffejee's death was a "big fabrication".
He said they were made to fabricate information in many cases, including the 1976 death of Umkhonto we Sizwe operative Joseph Mdluli in police detention and the assassination of Turner at his home in 1978.
Counsel for the Haffejee family advocate Howard Varney detailed how Turner was shot through his then 13-year-old daughter Jann Turner’s window. Turner had gone into the room to check on a noise coming from the garden. He died in the teenager’s arms in the bedroom.
Gopal and Lieutenant VR Naidu had been surveilling Turner’s movements for around two weeks before his assassination.
He told the court that he had been instructed to make note of everything in an investigation diary and put that on Captain Jimmy Taylor’s table or hand it to him personally.
He said that one afternoon, a Major Benjamin told him to immediately break off their surveillance. When he questioned that, he was told that the were instructions from Captain Jimmy Taylor.
“I wondered why we would be told, after two weeks of daily observation, to suddenly just stop, and I said: ’Fine, it's an instruction.’ And I stopped, well both Lieutenant Naidu and I stopped,” Gopal said.
Upon hearing the next day that Turner had been killed, he asked Major Benjamin about it. He was told that he worked on a “need-to-know basis” and that he did not need to know about Turner’s death.
“I was shocked and what I felt immediately at that time was that, my word, for two weeks Lieutenant Naidu and I kept observation on the suspect and then when we’re told to break observation, the next morning I hear that the suspect is dead, that he’s been shot.
“I remember I was walking down the passage to my office and I tried to open my office and the office door was locked. Nobody locks my office door; I have keys, so I was wondering why. And the door opened… Major Benjamin walked out and asked him what was going on… He said they just had some work to do, checking telephones, and that it was fine,” Gopal said.
He said he was furious that his and Lieutenant Naidu’s surveillance information had been used in an operation to kill Turner.
“I was absolutely fuming, fuming, fuming mad. That’s when I said: ’No, this was it I can’t take this.’ I felt that I was party to the murder of Dr Rick Turner, and I was absolutely fuming mad,” Gopal said.