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NPA Pledges Persistence in Investigating Apartheid Crimes: Case Involving Anti-Apartheid Activist Hoosen Haffejee Under Spotlight

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) demonstrated its unwavering commitment to redressing apartheid-era crimes this week, following recommendations from the Pietermaritzburg High Court to pursue criminal charges against those involved in the 1977 police custody death of anti-apartheid activist Hoosen Haffejee. The NPA confirmed that the TRC Unit of the Hawks is providing key assistance in the investigations.

Currently, the NPA is revisiting 88 cases with decisions already made in 16. Further compounding efforts, the prosecuting authority noted that there are “11 matters on the criminal court roll where suspects have been charged or where inquests have been opened.” At present, they disclosed a staggering 135 matters still under review.

Haffejee's demise sparked a nationwide outcry. The 26-year-old activist died under questionable circumstances at the Brighton Beach police station in Durban on 3rd August 1977. An inquest in 1978 ruled his death as suicide, a verdict his family persistently questioned. In 1997, his grieving mother turned to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for closure, resulting in their conclusion that Haffejee's death was likely due to torture.

Just this week, Judge Zaba Nkosi of the Pietermaritzburg High Court squashed the 1978 ruling, asserting that Haffejee was likely murdered by his torturers.

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga openly endorsed this verdict, hailing it as a testament to the NPA's commitment to prioritising TRC matters. He notes the progress made and assures that a senior counsel reviewing prosecution measures in TRC cases will provide recommendations as needed. Mhaga's reassurance included the vow that the NPA will counter historical apathy with actionable measures for TRC accountability.

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