Haffejee’s cousin Yunis Shaik details his torture ordeal
FORMER attorney and trade unionist turned businessman Yunis Shaik yesterday gave a harrowing account of the torture that political detainees endured at the hands of the apartheid regime’s security branch police.
Shaik was giving evidence before Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Zaba Nkosi at the reopened inquest into the death of 26 year-old Pietermaritzburg born dentist Dr Hoosen Haffejee while in police detention at the Brighton Beach police station on August 3, 1977.
During his detention at the Brighton Beach police station in March 1980, Shaik said that he was held in the same cell in which Haffejee, his cousin, had died less than three years earlier.
Shaik said that the security branch police used a specific cell for political prisoners at Brighton Beach, a cell separate from the others, and that was disclosed that he was Haffejee’s cousin.
Shaik spoke of endless assault, being punched, elbowed, kneed in his stomach, on the side of his kidneys and all over his body.
“It’s being assaulted by a mob, it’s a mob,” Shaik told Judge Nkosi
He detailed how during his interrogation he would be made to lean over a table with his hands in front of him and his face against the table while his face would be covered with a dampened cloth, which made it impossible to breathe as the interrogation went on.
“The position forces you to struggle for breath, so you’re in a battle where you’ve got to try and suck air and you’ve got to try and resist the pain that’s inflicted on you at that moment and you’ve got to keep your wits about you and answer the question, sometimes you forget your name.
“It becomes all so disorientated under such extreme circumstances, the idea is to force an answer, extract the information, unfiltered, unmitigated so that you confess whatever information they seek,” Shaik said.