Cape Town – Fifty years after the death of anti-apartheid activist Imam Abdullah Haron, there have been renewed calls to re-open the inquest into his death.
The calls came funeral of “aunty” Galiema Haron, 93, widow of Haron, who died on Sunday.
Her death came exactly 50 years after the Struggle hero was buried after he was killed in police custody.
Among the large number of mourners at the funeral were Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Judge Siraj Desai and ANC MPs Hishaam Mohamed and Faiez Jacobs.
“The Imam Haron Foundation has made a request to the government to open the inquest that was held by the apartheid regime, particularly the part of the magistrate at the time who conclusively or inconclusively made a finding that can never be justifiable In that light we are supporting the request by the family that the inquest at the time must be opened, so that we not only seek closure, but also that justice will be done,” Mohamed said.
Imam Haron was arrested on May 28, 1969, and detained for 123 days during his which he was tortured.
He died on September 27, 1969, and was buried on September 29.
The official inquest into his death ruled that he died after a fall down a flight of stairs.
Mthethwa said: “The very fact that Imam Haron had to endure pain, torture and persecution for 123 days until his death tells you of the nature of the person, the martyr and resilient fighter who fought to the bitter end.
“We dip our banner on behalf of the government of South Africa and of course on behalf of the president of the Republic that their contribution to where the country is today is will never be forgotten.” Cassiem Khan, national co-ordinator of the Imam Haron Foundation, said Aunty Galiema not only provided a home for her children, but provided shelter for others.
“She was a quiet giant and played an important role in keeping the memory of Imam Haron alive.”
Meanwhile, Jacobs said that Haron was a mother and comrade to be admired.
Islamia College chief executive Sadullah Khan said: “It was kind of surreal that she was buried on the same day that Imam Haron was laid to rest, the two graves are right next to each other and now Galiema will finally be with the love of her life.
“It was a sad occasion two great people who fought against the regime.”
A series of events took place last week to honour the fallen hero.
His graveside was declared a provincial heritage site.
Muslim Judicial Council deputy president Moulana Abdul Khaliq Allie said Haron was a pillar of strength, not only to her husband, but to the community during the Struggle.
“Aunty Galiema was a matriarch and stood firm supporting her husband, not only in his community work as an imam, but also as an anti-apartheid activist who was fighting against an unjust regime.
“People often described her as a very selfless woman who became a matriarch to the community and represented key Islamic values of keeping one’s family together long after her husband had passed away,” he said.