Cape Times

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.

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