Biko family heads to court for post-mortem report

2014-12-10 12:36
Steve Biko (File: AFP)

Steve Biko (File: AFP)

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Johannesburg - Steve Biko's family and foundation will take legal action to get the anti-apartheid activist's post-mortem report, their lawyer said on Wednesday.

"We have noted lack of undertakings to hand over the documents from the Steeles and regret that we now have no choice but to continue with legal processes," Darren Olivier of law firm Adams and Adams said in a statement.

The firm represents the Steve Biko family and foundation pro bono (without payment, for the public good).

He said unauthorised access to health records was unlawful, and possession of and access to such records highly regulated.

Autopsy documents

Siblings Clive and Susan Steele were given until Monday to undertake to return the post-mortem reports of Biko and another anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol to their families.

In a statement on Monday, the Steve Biko Foundation said it was informed by Clive and Susan Steele's lawyer that they would not return the document.

"It is with deep regret that the Timol Family, the Biko Family and the Steve Biko Foundation have been informed by Clive and Susan Steele's legal representative that they will not undertake to return the autopsy documents relating to Ahmed Timol and Steve Biko to their respective families today."

The High Court in Johannesburg last week halted the auction of Biko's post-mortem document, about an hour before it was to go under the hammer at Westgate Walding Auctioneers. Bidding on the document was to start at R70 000.

Certificates from pathologists

The court also ordered Westgate to stop the auction of Timol's post-mortem document.

On its website, Westgate says the Biko documents are from 1977 and contain certificates from pathologists, a certificate in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, and a 43-page post-mortem report.

Years ago, the document was given to Maureen Steele for safekeeping. She was the personal secretary of Dr Jonathan Gluckman, the pathologist appointed by the Biko family.

After Steele's death the documents went to her children, who did not want them. It was not known if the children gave or sold them to Westgate.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Steve Biko was a student leader. He later founded the Black Consciousness Movement. On 18 August 1977, Biko was arrested at a police roadblock and interrogated. He was tortured in prison and died in a prison cell in Pretoria on 12 September 1977.

Timol died in police custody in 1972. He was alone with a policeman when he supposedly fell out of a window at the then John Vorster Square police station in central Johannesburg.

Read more on:    steve biko  |  johannesburg

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