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‘I’m bidding you goodbye forever’ – chilling letter Lasch received after the death of his brother

“Brother Lasch, inform mum and my other brothers that the police are going to push me from the 10th floor and I am bidding you goodbye, forever.”

These were the words written on the white lining of Matthews Mabelane’s dark green and bloodied Lee branded trousers.

Fearing for his life, he had written the message for his family while he was in detention at John Vorster Square in 1977.

Like he had anticipated, on February 16, 1977, newspaper reports flooded the streets reporting that he had jumped out of the 10th floor of the John Vorster Square building, now Johannesburg Central Police Station.

Following the 23-year-old’s death, his family believed that the message was proof that he did not commit suicide, and that instead, he had died at the hands of apartheid’s security police.

The suspicious circumstances surrounding what had happened to Mabelane have always lingered and now the family wants closure and answers to what really happened to their son and brother.

When his brother, Lasch Mabelane, heard that the National Prosecuting Authority had agreed to reopen an inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Timol in June, he thought that by attending the inquest sitting at the High Court in Johannesburg, it would also open doors for his family.

The Timol inquest was reopened after the family found new evidence that proved that he did not commit suicide, but instead died in police custody in 1971.

An inquest conducted in 1972 had ruled that Timol committed suicide and that the police were not responsible for his death.
Police had alleged that Timol jumped out of a window on the 10th floor of the John Vorster Square building.

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