Imam Abdullah Haron Education Trust
Empowering Through Education
Trust No. IT3208/2005


Nearly 48 years after his death in police detention, the memory of the late Imam Abdullah Haron, lives on. Efforts to give expression to his legacy of assisting marginalised communities in particular, have resulted in the formation of the Imam Abdullah Haron Education Trust (IAHET).

The IAHET has been established, with the endorsement of the Haron family, to promote the late Imam Haron’s vision of empowering marginalised groups and individuals through education.

The principal aim of the Trust is to provide funding across the entire spectrum of education, ranging from the provision of infrastructure for pre-primary educational institutions to grants for post-graduate study.

Bursary Applications for 2017 now open

Posted on 22 February 2017

The IAHET invites students, irrespective of race, gender or creed, who are enrolled at tertiary institutions accredited by the Department of Higher Education and Training to apply for bursaries for the 2017 academic year.

This year, 35 bursaries worth R10 000 each will be awarded to successful applicants.

Since the programme was launched in 2006, the IAHET has allocated bursaries totalling over R2 million to 313 students.

Applicants are advised that because of the IAHET’s limited human resource capacity – all members are unpaid volunteers who hold full time jobs - students who have not received an invitation to attend an interview must assume their applications were unsuccessful.

Application forms may be downloaded from this website by clicking on the Bursary Applications link here or at the top of this page.

Completed application forms should be addressed to: Imam Abdullah Haron Education Trust, PO Box 44506, Claremont, 7735

Yacoob calls on students to channel their anger

By Jenna Etheridge,

University students must learn from how the struggle was won almost entirely through passive resistance to make society ungovernable, retired Constitutional Court justice Zak Yacoob said at the ninth annual Imam Haron Memorial Lecture.

He added that he sympathised with where students were, but violence should never be on the cards. “Our struggle, apart from Sharpeville and two other incidents, was non-violent,” he told the audience at the Islamia Auditorium.

He said thousands protested peacefully. They were only driven to violence when government banned political organisations. Even then, the violence was carefully controlled and it had been important to develop strength through peaceful means.

Yacoob was an anti-apartheid activist and retired as a Constitutional Court justice in 2013, after a 15-year stint. “Uncontrolled anger has got nobody anywhere in any struggle in the world,” he said. “Young people have got to control that anger, they have got to ensure there are more gains than loses in every move. Ultimately, the struggle has to be managed with absolute discipline and care.”

He felt they would achieve a great deal more if they got 30 000 students to stand silently in protest for five hours. Protesting students needed to get non-protesting students and society at large on their side.

Should be honest

“I have not heard a statement from student leaders to say that nobody will be forced not to attend lectures or not write their tests… saying we will make sure that we will provide that protection.”

He felt former Wits University SRC leader Mcebo Dlamini’s comment in court about needing bail to write a test insulted the intelligence of all citizens. Government and university officials also needed to be honest. They could not expect students to respect and obey them when they were corrupt.

“Their demands would not have been as vehement as they are now if corruption in our society is not so endemic, obvious, and cancerous.” At the same time, he said it was wrong to say universities were exactly as they were during apartheid.

“The position in our bush colleges was much, much worse than they are today. In a sense, we must learn to appreciate how far we have come before we can make demands.” Yacoob reflected on the journey the education sector had taken since 1994.


“Nobody has seriously taken stock of what we need to do,” he mused. “We are wonderfully great at producing white papers. White papers would say wonderful things,” he said to laughter from the half-filled hall. The problems were very serious and everyone, not just government, had to have a say. His suggestion was to come together to determine what the needs of the education system were in practical terms.

“It can’t take Einstein to develop a system to deliver textbooks on time or for each teacher at a school to teach properly.” There was a level at which the State had an obligation to make even tertiary education available to everyone. He said the State serviced more people today than 1994 and there was every justification to increase tax, if necessary.

Giving Expression to Imam Haron’s Legacy

Posted on 26 September 2016

Education, Youth Empowerment and selfless giving.

These three aspects of the rich legacy left by Imam Abdullah Haron were highlighted by Farzana Mahomed, chairperson of the Imam Abdullah Haron Education Trust (IAHET), in her pre-khutbah (Friday sermon) talk at the Claremont Main Road Mosque on 16 September 2016.

Ms Mohamed, who delivered this year’s talk as part of the CMRM’s annual commemoration of the Imam’s death in police detention on 27 September 1969, said it was gratifying to note that these three dimensions had filtered down into many areas of South Africa’s Muslim community.


Among the progressive innovations Imam Haron introduced at the Al-Jaamiah mosque in Stegman Rd, Claremont, where he officiated until his death, was the creation of discussion groups and adult education classes to cultivate critical thinking.

“Imam Haron made higher learning in Islam egalitarian, not only to empower ordinary Muslims who had no ambitions necessarily of becoming an Imam or Sheikh, but also extending this to women. At that point in time, this was new. Learned Imams and Shaikhs guarded their knowledge, deeming it sufficient that ordinary musallees (congregants) need only be aware of the basics of faith and practice, and dishing out pearls of wisdom only in their weekly khutbahs or to a select few initiates,” she said.

Youth Empowerment

“Imam Haron was instrumental in organising young people in his suburb to form the Claremont Muslim Youth Association (CMYA). Many progressive non-Muslim political thinkers and activists at the time, were invited to address to the CMYA.

“These ideas gave the Imam and CMYA members clearer perspectives on other opinions, and how they needed to respond to contemporary issues in the country. These exchanges also helped them to formulate their own ideas about Islam and society.

“The formation of the CMYA sent out several messages:

Bold and Selfless Giving

The IAHET chairperson said Imam Haron’s involvement in the alleviation of the plight of the poor beyond his own community blazed a trial for others to follow. “He was involved and assisted black African communities in Langa and Gugulethu at a time when Muslim engagement and involvement with these communities was unheard of.

“He developed close ties with particularly the banned Pan African Congress and assisted the families of those who had been imprisoned or killed. But over and above this, Imam Haron joined the ranks of those who spoke out boldly against the apartheid injustices at the time.

“In the broader Muslim Ulama at the time, this was both frowned upon and even heavily criticised. Ultimately it was also this involvement that led to his detention and eventual martyrdom in custody.”

Ms Mahomed underlined that the IAHET had incorporated two of the legacies of the Imam – education and youth – into its ambitious programme. “Apart from our bursary programme, 80 percent of our funds are spent on Early Childhood Development projects in under-resourced areas such as Gugulethu, Belhar, Bonteheuwel, Langa and Valhalla Park, where access to early learning opportunities are either limited or non existent.

“The trust believes that early childhood is a crucial stage of life in terms of a child’s physical, intellectual, emotional and social development. As such we recognise the importance of investing in very young children so as to maximize their future well-being as adolescents and eventually adults.”

“Imam Haron exemplified what it means to do good, not only for your own community, but also beyond. Not only to give in charity, but also of your time and effort. Not only to identify injustice, but also to actively speak out against it,” she concluded.

Click here to read the full speech

Sanzaf partnership boosts ECD project

Posted on 2 August 2016

adam habib pic

Sabier Patel, Yusuf Patel, Faeza Govin, Fatima Haron-Masoet, Sadeeqa Isaacs, Martina Anthony, Yasmeena Francke, Aneesa Rylands

The Imam Abdullah Haron Education Trust (IAHET) has consolidated its footprint in the field of Early Childhood Development (ECD) by partnering with the South African National Zakah Fund (Sanzaf) in its Out-of-Centre project.

The project, which is being funded to the tune of R320 000 per annum, commenced in January and is being run in conjunction with the Grassroots Educare Trust, an organization with more than 34 years of experience in the field of ECD.

The project will benefit young children in under-resourced parts of Belhar, Valhalla Park, Bonteheuwel, Netreg and Gugulethu.

“Sanzaf is pleased to be involved in a formal partnership with the IAHET, since both organisations share a like-minded vision to ensure that the Out-of-Centre based ECD programme benefits the most vulnerable children in these areas,” said Yasmina Francke, Sanzaf’s Western Cape General Manager.

“The objective of the programme is to improve the general quality of life for young children not attending formal ECD centres. Sanzaf also endorses Grassroots as the lead service provider in children's education.

“ECD is one of the fundamental pillars of the Sanzaf’s Education, Empowerment and Development Programme popularly known as SEED which focuses on the cognitive and social development of young children under the age of six years,” Francke added.

Yusuf Patel, the IAHET’s ECD consultant hopes the partnership with the Sanzaf could lead to a national rollout in the near future.

“The success of this project could lead to it being expanded to other provinces, particularly since Grassroots has the necessary human resources to provide the required training.

“The partnership is testimony of IAHET's belief that wecan only do justice in servicing young children through broadeningpartnerships with like-minded institutions. Partnerships of this nature allow us to broaden the scope of services to those young ones who otherwise would not have had the opportunity of benefiting from ECD services,” said Patel.

Brey hands over IAHET reins

Posted on 26 July 2016

new chairperson pic

Farzana Mahomed (left) has taken over as chairperson of the IAHET Board of Trustees from Mustaq Brey (right)

Farzana Mahomed has taken over as chairperson of the Imam Abdullah Haron Education Trust following Mustaq Brey’s decision to step down from the position he occupied since inception in September 2005.

Mrs Mahomed was officially introduced at the organisation’s AGM on 21 July 2016.

Mr Brey, who expertly piloted the IAHET through its formative years into one of the country’s most respected NGO’s in the field of education during his term of office, said his decision to step down was in keeping with a promise he made when taking up the position that he would serve for only 10 years. He will continue to serve on the Board of Trustees.

“I made a commitment and I think it is good governance that I hand over the reins now. We can only prosper through working with the next generation by handing over the baton of leadership to them,” he said.

“I am pleased to hand over to a lady because we have done well in terms of equal gender representation on our of Board of Trustees. I wish Farzana well and I am sure the new blood and energy will take this organization to even greater heights.”

Paying tribute to her predecessor, Mrs Mahomed acknowledged that she had big shoes to fill but expressed confidence that with the continued help of Mr Brey’s guidance and support, the IAHET will continue its impressive growth.

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the trustees and Board of Governors for their faith in selecting me to chair this auspicious organization. I can assure everyone that the remarkable work that has been done over the past ten years to serve society and humankind in general will continue unabated,” she said.

“As it is Mandela month, it is befitting to acknowledge our honourable late Nelson Mandela who believed in the power of education in the same way that our beloved Imam Haron stood up for it. We will continue to walk in their footsteps to keep alive their legacy.’

Reflecting on his tenure as chairperson, Mr Brey said the profile and legacy of Imam Haron had been raised during the past decade. “There is now much greater awareness around the trials, tribulations, ideology and principles of this great leader, our Imam.

“I am pleased to say when I now make a call to corporates to support the work of the IAHET, there is no hesitation because they have become so familiar with the good work done in the name of Imam Abdullah Haron.

“I am particularly proud of the fact that through our bursary programme we have supported over 300 tertiary level students to the tune of nearly R2million since our inception. These are students from the most marginalized communities who deserve a chance. It is this chance that could make a difference to their own lives, that of their families, their community and ultimately to our country. Their success is our collective success,” he said.

The outgoing chairperson also highlighted the growing impact made by the trust in the field of Early Childhood Development. “Over the past three years we have spent R2.7 million in implementing our ECD programmes. As research has shown, good quality programmes in this important area provide an essential foundation for learners in their later schooling years.”

Mr Brey called on South Africans to remember and honour all those who sacrificed their lives to ensure the country was liberated from the evil system of Apartheid. “While the IAHET was established to honour the legacy of Imam Haron, we must make the point of always remembering all of our fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure we are now living in a democratic country. Let us all make a concerted effort to respect and uphold their legacy. We can only go forward if we remember our past and build on the great examples of our own giants.”

Following in the footsteps of Mr Brey won’t be easy but the new chairperson will be comforted by the knowledge that she will be able to call on his vast experience together with that of her fellow trustees as the IAHET embarks on its second decade of service to marginalized communities in the field of education.

IAHET ready for growth spurt

Posted on 21 July 2016

ECD 2016 pic

The Imam Abdullah Haron Education Trust (IAHET) is well on its way towards achieving its goal of becoming a major player among NGOs in the field of education.

Addressing the organisation’s Annual General Meeting at the Alexander Sinton High School on 21 July, outgoing chairperson Mustaq Brey said the IAHET has made significant strides towards achieving that goal despite the tough economic times of the past few years.

“Since our establishment nearly 11 years ago we have grown steadily into a highly respected NGO, making a modest but significant difference in the lives of people of all ages who live on the margins of South Africa’s still unequal society.

“During this time we have managed to raise and spend close to R3.8 million on our various projects in Early Childhood Development, Maths and Science tuition for matric learners, and our bursary programme for tertiary level students,” he said.

Brey highlighted the ECD programme as one of the IAHET’s big success stories. “In conjunction with the Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD), Grassroots Educare Trust (GET) and the Foundation for Community Work (FCW), we have been able to cover the under-resourced areas of Gugulethu, Belhar, Bonteheuwel, Langa and Valhalla Park.

“The focus was on providing unemployed individuals, especially young mothers, with the necessary tools and means of developing young children in these areas which rank among the poorest in Cape Town.

“During the past year we were able to train and support 17 Home Visitors and 10 Playgroup Mothers as well as reaching 800 children and 400 families through daily and weekly home-based services. In addition, we were also able to establish 10 structured home-based playgroups in Belhar,” he added.

Tuition and bursary programme

Once again the Maths and Science tuition programme helped to improve the results in these two crucial subjects at the three participating schools – Spine Rd High in Mitchells Plain, Steenberg High and Joe Slovo Engineering School in Khayelitsha.

Spine Rd excelled once again achieving 95 percent (seven As) and 93 percent (3 As) pass rates in Maths and Science respectively.

Steenberg High achieved a highly creditable 83.3 percent pass rate for Science while Joe Slovo also improved to above 50 percent in both subjects.

Thanks to a generous sponsorship of R175 000 from Old Mutual the IAHET was able, for the first time, to increase the bursaries offered from R5 000 to R10 000 per student. The 35 successful tertiary level candidates were selected from more than 250 applications.

Brey, who has been succeeded as chairperson of the IAHET by Farzana Mahomed, thanked all the individual and corporate sponsors for their continued support of the organization. “Without this support the IAHET would not be able to fulfill its mission of helping to provide educational opportunities to those on the margins of society,” he concluded.

Click here for the full 2016 IAHET Annual Report

Habib bemoans the lack of transformation at SA Universities

Posted on 05 October 2015

adam habib pic

Twenty one years after the momentous move to a non-racial democracy in South Africa, many of the country’s universities still remain racial enclaves.

Delivering the eighth annual Imam Haron Memorial Lecture at Community House in Salt River on 30 October 2015, Professor Adam Habib , Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand lamented that while many historically white English and Afrikaans institutions have begun to de-racialise and now have more diverse and cosmopolitan environments, they still have not risen to the transformation challenge.

"While many of these universities have achieved significant demographic diversity at the student enrolment level, their academic staffing complement is still largely white, especially at the most senior academic levels. In many of the nation’s leading universities, black African professors constitute less than 10% of the professoriate. The lower levels of the academic hierarchy have better representation of black African South Africans – 19% of all senior lecturers and 35% of all junior lecturers – yet the situation is far from what can be described as even adequate."

Paying tribute to the late Imam Abdullah Haron, Prof Habib said the Imam was a father and husband who continues to live through his loved ones. "He was a leader whose memory continues to reside within the community he served. He was a Muslim, but he was also an African who served all sections of the South African community. He was a nationalist, but he was also a humanist who worked with people from all faiths and all countries to build the foundation of a common humanity.

"Imam Haron was a martyr who should not be forgotten. He must be remembered for his service to the community. He must be remembered for having sacrificed his life so that all of us can be free. His memory must be honoured, as must those of the many other martyrs, by our fulfillment of their dream. But 21 years into our democratic transition, can we truly say that we have honoured their memory, especially in the sphere of higher education?

"Would Imam Haron, had he been here, not have asked hard questions about whether our country’s institutions embody the values of our much acclaimed constitution? He would have applauded the fact that our university system has more than doubled its student enrolment and significantly transformed its racial, cultural and class diversity. But would he not have bemoaned and struggled to understand the fact that almost 55% of students who enter university will not complete at all, and fewer than 25% will complete their degrees within the minimum allocated time?

"Would he not have asked why universities receive only R22 billion in subsidies when the Department of Higher Education and Training’s (DOHET) own task team argues that they should be funded at R37 billion if they are to be at the world average? Would he not have asked why is it that so many institutions remain racial enclaves twenty years after our democratic transition and whether this is an appropriate social setting for the training of professionals and citizens in the 21st century?"

Prof Habib acknowledged the right of student movements at various campuses around the country to protest against the lack of transformation at their respective institutions but warned against a lack of discipline and the use of violence in pressing their demands.

"As we pursue this (process of) transformation or decolonization, there needs to be a serious deliberation about the tactics and strategies used to pursue these goals, and the parameters of acceptable engagement. This is all the more urgent given what we witnessed at the University of KwaZulu Natal where there were violent altercations with police and security personnel, the administration block and vehicles were set alight leading to millions of rands worth of damage, and the university had to be closed.

"There is no doubt that there is an activist layer within the transformation or decolonization movement that believes that violence is a legitimate means of engagement. It is held by some of these activists that, because poor people are subject to structural violence in highly unequal societies like South Africa, this somehow gives these activists the right to perpetrate violence in the course of their struggles. Claiming to draw inspiration from Frantz Fanon and Steve Biko, both of whom wrote under the yoke of colonial subjugation, they misappropriate the words and intents of these activist intellectuals to justify violence in the post-colony. Profanity and threats on social media replace reasoned debate. Principled politics get replaced by theatrics. Civil liberties are seen as a ‘bourgeois’ distraction. Little is understood about the fact that lives were lost for the pursuit of these liberties and that they should not be so easily traded for short term political gain."

Click here to read Prof Adam Habib's speech

Celebrating the Sixty Year Legacy of Imam Haron

By Dr Abdul Rashied Omar, Imam of the Claremont Main Rd Mosque
Posted on 28 September 2015

imam haron pic

On Sunday the 27th September 2015 we commemorated the 46th anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Abdullah Haron, who was killed in an apartheid prison in 1969. Imam Haron was a towering figure in the struggle against apartheid. He paid the supreme sacrifice for his witness to justice.

This year’s commemoration of Imam Haron’s martyrdom is significant since it also marks the 60th year since the appointment of Abdullah Haron in October 1955 as the official Imam of the Al-Jaamia Masjid in Stegman Road, Claremont. At the time of his appointment Abdullah Haron was 31 years old and he became the youngest Imam at the Cape. His appointment as an Imam marked the birth of a new era in the history of Islam in South Africa.

During the 14-year period of his Imamat at the Stegman Road Masjid, from 1955-1969, Imam Haron forged a close relationship with the Claremont youth. These young students were politically conscientised at their schools by educators who belonged to the Teachers League of South Africa (TLSA), and they were looking for spiritual guidance that resonated with their anti-apartheid political conscientisation. They shared their political literature with the Imam and thus developed a symbiotic relationship between Imam Haron and the youth. Imam Haron revitalised their faith in Islam by teaching them a more dynamic and socially responsive understanding of Islam, and he in turn learnt from their political activism and involvement in anti-apartheid struggles.

The socially responsive vision of Islam that was formulated by Imam Haron in collaboration with the Claremont Muslim Youth Association (CMYA) was articulated in their newsletter “The Islamic Mirror” in the late fifties and throughout the sixties. It featured articles focusing on ‘Bantu Education’, ‘Exploitation of Farm and Mine Workers’, ‘Hajj and Equality’ and ’300 Years of Oppression’. The highpoint of Imam Haron and his youth allies was reached in March 1960 when they launched “The Call of Islam” which declared apartheid a heresy.

Imam Haron was one of the first Muslim leaders to regularly frequent Black townships such as Langa, Nyanga and Gugulethu. For Imam Haron the primary motivation for his interactions with these communities was to show solidarity with fellow oppressed compatriots. In doing so, he sought to break down racial and cultural barriers that kept communities apart during the Apartheid era, and stubbornly persists today. Among the many activities Imam Haron had been engaged in, was looking after the financial needs of families of anti-apartheid activists who had been incarcerated or driven into exile. The funds for his relief work had obtained largely from the Defence and Aid League, which in turn was strongly supported by Christian Churches internationally.

The fact that these international Christian Churches trusted a Muslim Imam to channel relief funds to families of anti-apartheid activists speaks volumes about the strong interfaith connections that Imam Haron had forged.

On Wednesday 28 May 1969, Imam Haron was detained under Section Six of the Terrorism Act of 1967. After being held by the state security for 123 days incommunicado Imam Haron died while in prison on September 27, 1969. According to police reports the Imam's death had been caused by a fall from a flight of stairs at the Maitland police station. A subsequent autopsy report revealed 28 bruises on the Imam’s body, mostly on the legs. His stomach was empty and his 7th rib was broken. The Muslim community never believed the apartheid police version of the cause of Imam Haron’s death.

More than thirty thousand mourners coming from all sectors of Cape Town’s diverse population turned his funeral into a ritualized form of defiance against the apartheid regime. In a eulogy delivered at the funeral, the late anti-apartheid activist, Victor Wessels, captured the mission of the Imam when he said: “Imam Haron’s mission was the mission of the people, but he died not only for the Muslims.

He died for his cause – the cause of the oppressed people, and for that he will be remembered.” An interfaith service, paying tribute to Imam Haron’s contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle was also held in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral in central London on 6 October 1969. It was the first time in the history of the Cathedral that a service had been held there to commemorate a Muslim.

Since the 1980s a number of youth groups including the Claremont Main Road Mosque has sought to build on the legacy of Imam Abdullah Haron by critically reflecting on and engaging with issues that affect us as citizens, locally and globally.

Reflecting on Imam Haron’s legacy allows us to ponder how we too can live our lives in the service of others, without prejudice and judgment, and how we can take forward the social justice vision that Imam Abdullah Haron espoused and ultimately gave his life for.

IAHET turns 10 in style

Posted on 07 September 2015

In the space of ten years the Imam Abdullah Haron Education Trust (IAHET) has grown from humble beginnings into one of South Africa’s most respected NGO’s.

Addressing more than 600 guests who attended the organisation’s glittering 10th anniversary Gala Dinner at the Islamia College Hall on 5 September 2015, IAHET chairperson Mustaq Brey outlined the organisation’s contributions to marginalised communities through its bursary, tuition and early childhood development programmes.

“Despite the tough economic times of recent years we have grown steadily into a highly respected NGO, making a modest but significant difference in the lives of people of all ages who live on the margins of South Africa’s still unequal society.

“I’m happy to say we have during our 10 years of existence managed to raise and spend close to R3.5 million on our various projects,” said Mr Brey.

Delivering the keynote address, Sheikh Sa’dullah Khan, Chief Executive Officer of Islamia College paid tribute to the fearless leadership of Imam Haron at a time when the apartheid regime launched a harsh crackdown on its opponents.

“Imam Haron was small in physical size but massive in moral stature. A valiant voice against the oppression of the racist apartheid regime his words still echo in the memories of freedom fighters.

“The criminal apartheid security branch detained our people, the diabolical Group Areas Act moved our people, but here we are today ... nurtured by the blood of martyrs, bearing testimony to the victory of Imam Haron over his torturers; they killed his body but his mission is alive, they silenced his voice but his message continues to inspire, his body lies buried but his spirit lives on ... it lives in every person he taught (young or old), in every poor home he visited (in Manenberg or Langa), in every life he touched,” said Sheikh Khan.

Click here for the full transcript of Sheikh Sa’dullah Khan’s speech

A surprise donation of R100 000 by the Nedbank Foundation to the IAHET’s ECD programme embellished a thoroughly enjoyable evening that was hosted by well-known standup comedian Dr Riaad Moosa, who kept the audience entertained throughout the evening with his unique brand of humour.

nedbank cheque pic

Click here for the IAHET 10th Anniversary picture gallery

The bright future of a university student living in a garage in Atlantis

Posted by: Raeesa Pather in As Told to 9 July 2015

bright future pic

MARILEE VAN DER MERWE thought that 2015 would be the year she would have to give up her education to find work. But things are looking brighter than ever for the 22-year-old from Atlantis. She told Ra’eesa Pather what changed.

I persevered all through high school and made it to university, to study for a BCom in finance, but I thought 2015 would be the year I’d have to give up my education to go work. There just isn’t enough money for studies, books, transport, and everything that goes with it.

I live in a garage with my mother and sister. Mom works as a cleaner and gets paid R800 a week. She’s been on a housing waiting list for 18 years. We rent a garage at someone’s place. There’s no toilet; no taps with running water. We use an outdoor tap to wash up.

People think it’s a sad story, but it’s not. We do our best. I’ve learned that your circumstances don’t determine where you will be one day.

My mom doesn’t want me and my sister to be in these circumstances; she wants what’s best for us. She’s got a lot of debt because she made loans so that we could have the best she could give.

This year looked impossible. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme wouldn’t give me money to study, so I went through the newspaper looking for bursaries, and I read this article about the Imam Abdullah Haron Education Trust.

I took a chance and I applied. When I got the email that I received the bursary, it meant so much to me. I was so happy, and my mom too. They pay R10,000, which is basically half of my studies. It’s a huge help for my mom.

I’ve had to sacrifice many things to get through the year. I didn’t have the resources many students have. On campus, I didn’t have money for food. I have to borrow textbooks from the library and sometimes the textbooks can’t be taken out of the library or they are only for overnight loan. I didn’t have a laptop, and it was difficult because I could never submit my assignments on time. I was still driven to work hard though, knowing that eventually I would get there.

After I got the bursary, the Cape Times shared my story and people just wanted to help. The university told me they would pay my outstanding fees and that they would see that I have a place to stay near campus. I’m so happy. I never expected all this help.

When I put the article on Facebook, my friends were inspired, because they didn’t know about the conditions we live in. My friends never come to visit us. Even now, some of them don’t believe that I stay in a garage. Inviting people to our house was never an option. I don’t like people to feel sorry for me. That’s why I would rather try my best, even if I don’t have as much as others.

Things are still difficult. I haven’t moved into the new accommodation yet so I have to get up at 4.30am to catch the 6am bus to campus. I get there by 8am and only get home again by 6pm. But I know I’m not the only one going through this. I’ve learned to have a positive attitude towards my circumstances.

My dream is to get my degree and start businesses. I want to create opportunities for other young people. Our community is filled with people who don’t have hope for tomorrow anymore. They don’t believe there are any opportunities for them.

I want to open an internet café, and I want to create an atmosphere for students to go there, and do their assignments. It must be a community business, where young people can make education a priority.

I’m so thankful, because now, my life has changed. When those people told me they have a place for me to stay, I was so happy I could cry. I want to do my best this year. I see myself among the top students and that’s where I want to be. I have big dreams despite what we are going through.

– As told to Ra’eesa Pather
– Featured image: By Ra’eesa Pather

IAHET Bursary Recipients for 2015

Posted 22 June 2015

IAHET bursary winners pic

The Imam Abdullah Haron Education Trust (IAHET) has announced the 35 recipients of its annual bursaries, which were increased from R5 000 to R10 000 each for 2015, thanks to a one-off sponsorship of R175 000 from Old Mutual.

The recipients are all tertiary level students who were selected on the basis of need and academic ability, irrespective of race, gender or religion.

IAHET education committee convenor Junaid Daries said he was impressed with the quality of this year‘s applicants. “We had more than 250 applications and it was no easy task to decide on the 35 most deserving candidates. I only wish we could assist more students. It was a really tough selection process because there were so many deserving candidates that we could not accommodate.

“Judging by the quality of the applicants, both from an academic and personal point of view, I am filled with renewed hope for the future of our country,” said Daries.

One of the successful applicants was Shanel Hendricks, who obtained seven distinctions in matric last year despite having to overcome the challenges of living in the gang-infested area of Bonteheuwel.

Her tenacity and determination to succeed saw Hendricks rise above her circumstances, which included having to remain focused amid ongoing gang violence in her surroundings. Her stellar results enabled Shanel to pursue her dream of becoming her family‘s first doctor as she is currently registered as a first year medical student at Stellenbosch University.

“My circumstances have deprived me of many valuable opportunities in life but my hope of creating a future for myself have stood me in good stead. Regardless of all I have been denied, I am determined that my tertiary education will not succumb to my circumstances,‘ said the 18-year-old former Bonteheuwel High School learner.

The IAHET has also been able to assist Jonathan Kalomba to realise his long-cherished dream of furthering his education in South Africa. When the 19-year-old arrived in the country with his parents and four siblings from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002, he could not speak or understand a word of English or Afrikaans.

The language barrier frustrated his attempts to register at schools in the Square Hill and Steenberg areas until he found support from a committed teacher, Mrs Gordon, who was prepared to take on the challenge of helping Jonathan come to grips with the languages.

“At first it seemed like I was barely passing my subjects but as I became older I was at the top of my class, even obtaining an 'A' for Afrikaans in matric!

“I am the first born child out of five and as the eldest, I have always had to lead by example. This meant that the pressure was, and is, always on me to set the bar as high as I can for my siblings,” said Jonathan, who is a first year Actuarial Science student at UCT.

Another successful candidate, Marilee van der Merwe, lives in temporary accommodation in the backyard of friends in Atlantis with her mother and younger sister who is currently in matric.

Marilee has to rise at 5am every morning to catch a 6am bus from home to UWC in Bellville where she is registered as a first year BComm student.

“I believe in education as a means to get me and my family out of poverty. I am determined to excel despite the difficulties we have experienced as a family. My mom, who works as a cleaner at a factory in Atlantis, is my biggest motivator. She has instilled in me the principles and values which shaped my into the respectable, focused and positive character I am today,‘ said Marilee who hopes to qualify as a chartered accountant.

After disbursing a modest R50 000 to 10 tertiary students during its first year of operation in 2006, the IAHET has over the past ten years assisted a total 278 students to the tune of close to R1.5-million. Funds for the bursary programme are raised through an annual corporate golf day.

The bursaries are administered free of charge by the Hospital Welfare and Muslim Education Movement (HWMEM).

The IAHET was established in September 2005 to honour the memory of the late Imam Abdullah Haron through the funding of tertiary level students.

Imam Haron, who died in police detention on 27 September 1969, was the leader of the congregation at Stegman Rd Mosque, Claremont at the time of his death.

Click here to see the full list of 2015 bursary winners

Cape Times – Grateful bursary recipient displays strong determination

ECD Programme continues to thrive

Posted 11 June 2015


The Imam Abdullah Haron Education Trust (IAHET) provided Early Childhood Development opportunities for 617 children while 456 parents were trained in ECD Education Workshops over the past year which has empowered them to be of greater educational benefit to their young children.

Presenting the his report at the organisation’s ninth Annual General Meeting at a full Alexander High School hall on 10 June, IAHET chairman Mustaq Brey said despite the numerous challenges faced by field workers in 2014, including gang violence and service delivery protests, the ECD programme managed to provide much–needed education and training opportunities in areas like the Barcelona informal settlement in Gugulethu and in areas like Langa, Bonteheuwel Belhar and Valhalla Park.

“I am pleased to report that 144 of the children who have come through the playgroups were able to enrol for Grade R while 11 registered for Grade 1. Without benefiting from our intervention programmes it would have been virtually impossible for these children to be registered at the schools in their respective areas,” said Brey.

The programmes are run in partnership with well–established and highly respected ECD agencies – Grassroots Educare Trust (GET), the Foundation for Community Work (FCW) and the Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD).

Brey also congratulated Spine Rd High School for achieving a historic 100% pass rate for the 2014 National Senior Certificate exams. The school is one of three – together with Steenberg and Joe Slovo High Schools – that run an after–hours Maths and Science tuition programme funded by the IAHET.

“While we certainly cannot claim credit for the historic pass rate achieved by Spine Rd High School last year– the first time this has been done by a school in Mitchell’s Plain – we would like to believe the Maths and Science tuition programme played some role in assisting the school’s matriculants in their preparations.

“What makes Spine Rd’s achievement even more remarkable is that the school also achieved the highest pass rate in the Southern District of the Western Cape, beating better–resourced schools in more affluent areas,” he added.

Click here to read the full 2014–15 Annual Report

Spine Rd defies the odds

Posted 30 January 2015

riyaadh najaar pic

A dream come true. This is how Riyaadh Najaar, principal of Spine Road High School in Rocklands, Mitchell’s Plain, described his school’s historic 100% pass rate in the 2014 National Senior Certificate exams.

After coming close over the past few years, Najaar’s ambitious school finally reached the summit, making it the first time that a school in Mitchells Plain has achieved the feat.

“It has eluded us for many years, more than three decades, in fact. And we did it with our biggest class – 233 pupils – so far,” said Najaar, whose school is one of the three, along with Joe Slovo and Steenberg High Schools, that are part of the IAHET’s Maths and Physical Science tuition programme for matric pupils.

“When it was announced that there was a drop in maths and science passes, my heart sank and I could not even sleep.

“Imagine my elation when I got the news of our 100% pass rate.” Spine Rd achieved a pass rate of 95,1% for Maths and 83.6% for Physical Science. Najaar said his school’s achievement was even more remarkable because 15 pupils who failed Grade 11 had been transferred to Grade 12 as part of the education department’s new policy not to hold back pupils for more than two years.

The school also achieved the highest pass rate in the Southern District of the Western Cape, beating schools in more affluent areas. A further testament to the magnitude of the school’s achievement is the fact that the majority of the pupils are from Tafelsig, an area plagued by drugs, gangsterism and dysfunctional families.

“We can never blame our circumstances for not achieving. We need to turn adversity to our advantage. It just shows that parents don’t have to send their kids out of the township to achieve quality education,” Najaar added.

He believes the achievement required deep commitment from pupils, parents and teachers.“We started on day one and never stopped working. The teachers put in a lot of extra hours, but ultimately the mind-set of the learners was the clincher.

“They believed they could do it. I believe if we can change the mind-set of our learners, then the sky is the limit.”

Najaar thanked the IAHET for funding the Maths and Science tuition programme. “The extra lessons in those two crucial subjects really helped. On behalf of the teachers, parents and learners of Spine Road High School I sincerely would like to thank the IAHET for their great support given to our matric learners of 2014.

“We attribute the success of the class of 2014 to the extra classes given to our children which the IAHET has been magnanimous in supporting since 2011.”

Sourced from

Also see:

More to democracy than voting

Posted 30 September 2014

trevor manuel pic

South Africans cannot be satisfied with thinking that all democracy requires of them is to vote every five years.

That was the essence of the message delivered by former cabinet minister Trevor Manuel when he presented the seventh annual Imam Haron Memorial Lecture at the Bellville campus of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) on Monday 29 September 2014.

“If indeed that is our approach, we would not understand the heroism of a martyr’s past, we will not appreciate the value of our achievements in establishing democracy, and the only relationship we will have with our children and their children, including those unborn, will be the material possessions that we might have to leave in the will – which for most will be nothing!

“History demands our continued active engagement in all we see and experience,” he said.

The former Finance Minister, who was himself a key figure in the liberation struggle in the 1980s and 90s, pointed out that those who were involved in the breaking down of apartheid have a responsibility to build a caring democracy.

“This responsibility does not vest only with elected or employed officials – in fact it is up to the unelected and ordinary citizens to construct the quality of democracy that they desire. I fervently believe that our struggle is continuous and the state has an enormous responsibility to level delivery between those who can afford private services and those who cannot.

“In fact, ours is a struggle to have public services of a much higher standard. If we stop believing this and if we stop agitating for this we must declare all sacrifices in our past struggles to have been in vain.

“It cannot be sufficient to have fought for this democracy and to not care about the outcomes any longer. We surely would not treat any other aspect of our lives – whether this be physical or spiritual – with the same disdain. There is none among us who would adopt the view that all we require to be alive is to be able to breathe and that the quality of that life is immaterial.

“There is none among us who would accept that we may have been born with a level of intelligence, we don't need to read or study to improve our knowledge. Why, then, do we not mind if our democracy falls short of the ideal we envisaged during those years of struggle?”, he asked.

Reflecting on the heroic struggle for democracy which eventually overcame the deeply entrenched and powerful apartheid system, Manuel said recalling key moments in the liberation struggle in the 45 years since Imam Haron’s death was “a necessary exercise because we must undertake an evaluation of our circumstances from time to time to evaluate who we are, where we are heading and what we ought to be better at.”

Click here for Mr Manuel’s full speech.

Click here for the picture gallery

Imam Haron’s Focus on the Youth

Posted 26 September 2014

rashied omar pic

Empowering the youth is one of the great legacies of Imam Abdullah Haron as he sought to learn from them while at the same time encouraging them to establish social justice through their faith.

Addressing congregants at the Claremont Main Road Mosque’s weekly Friday Jumuah prayer service, Imam Rashied Omar said during Imam Haron’s time the Muslim youth of the day grappled with reconciling their anti-apartheid political convictions with their Islamic world view.

“Today our youth grapple with many more, broader social issues that come into conflict with their Islamic value system. The critical challenge facing us is to find creative and innovative ways of passing our socially responsive vision of Islam to new generations of youth.”

Imam Omar, who dedicated his address to Imam Haron on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of his death in police detention, paid tribute to the martyr’s symbiotic relationship with the youth of Claremont in which he revitalised their faith by teaching them a more dynamic understanding of Islamic which had the establishment of social justice at its core.

He also paid tribute to the IAHET for its role in memorialising and institutionalising Imam Haron’s legacy through its various programmes which seek to empower marginalised communities through education.

Click here for Imam Rashied Omar’s full lecture

The IAHET continues to make a difference


ECD picture 5

The disbursement of R1.22 million over the 2013/14 financial year is a clear manifestation of the continuing growth of the Imam Abdullah Haron Education Trust’s (IAHET) activities.

Addressing the organisation’s Annual General Meeting at the Alexander Sinton High School on 3 June 2104, chairperson Mustaq Brey said the past year had been a particularly productive and rewarding one.

“The Trust, with the generous help of our various stakeholders without whom we wouldn’t be able to function, has been able to make a significant difference to the lives of many people living on the margins of society.

“The R846 000 we spent on Early Childhood Development helped us to assist more than 700 parents and 785 children through the programmes run by our three partner agencies – the Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD), the Foundation for Community Work (FCW) and Grassroots Educare Trust (GET), all highly regarded organisations in this field.

“The programme has already made a big impact in the areas where it is being run, such as Gugulethu, Langa, Belhar and Valhalla Park, and it has been well received by its beneficiaries,” said Brey.

Over the past year the IAHET also disbursed a further R175 000 to 35 students through its flagship bursary programme. The bursaries, which are worth R5 000 each, would by the 2014 allocation, have assisted 243 students to the tune of a total of R1 136 500.

The bursaries come with no strings attached and are issued on the basis of financial need and academic merit irrespective of race, religion or gender.

The IAHET’s sponsorship of Maths and Science tuition programmes at Steenberg, Spine Rd and Joe Slovo High Schools, has also helped those schools to improve their results in those subjects.

Read the full version of the Chairperson’s address at the AGM (147kb)

Read the 2013/14 Annual Financial Statements and Chairperson’s Report

Imam Abdullah Haron Honoured with Order of Luthuli: Gold Award

Posted 27 April 2014

Imam haron Picture 9

More than four decades after being killed in police detention by the Apartheid state’s security branch, Imam Abdullah Haron will be honoured posthumously by the South African government.
Imam Haron, who died in police detention on 27 September 1969 after being held incommunicado for 123 days, will receive the Order of Luthuli:Gold at a ceremony to be held in the Union Buildings, Pretoria on Freedom Day, 27 April 2014.
The Order of Luthuli recognises South African citizens who have contributed to the struggle for democracy, nation-building, building democracy and human rights, justice and peace as well as for the resolution of conflict.
In a statement issued by the presidency Imam Haron is being honoured “for his exceptional contribution in raising awareness among the youth of political injustices. His legacy remains that of a man who stood for truth and justice”

Responding to the announcement of the award, Professor Muhammed Haron, the only son of the late Imam said: “As the children of Imam Haron, mindful of the socio-political and economic developments that have taken place over the past 20 years in our beloved country, we warmly welcome this award.

“It is indeed concrete illustration that the South African government and South Africa’s civil society have at last publicly acknowledged the selfless struggle and splendid sacrifice that our father undertook in order to address the injustices that the apartheid regime meted out against all the oppressed in our dear country. And we wish to add that we are overjoyed that this particular award is associated one of the most respected South African leaders, namely Dr Albert Luthuli.”

The Haron family also acknowledged the role played by the Imam Abdullah Haron Education Trust (IAHET) in securing the honour. “As the Haron family we would like to acknowledge the IAHET for the crucial role they played in the nomination process and the eventual securing of the award with the view of preserving and building our beloved father's legacy.”

Mustaq Brey, chairperson of the IAHET, said the award was a welcome and long-overdue recognition of Imam Haron’s selfless contribution to the struggle for liberation, particularly at a time when it was difficult and dangerous to do so. “As South Africans living in a democratic dispensation for which many, including Imam Haron, sacrificed their lives we should never forget the role they played in bringing down the evil system of Apartheid.

“Hopefully this award will ensure that Imam Haron’s willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice to eventually ensure we are now free will never be forgotten, particularly by future generations.”

Trevor Manuel, Minister in the Presidency responsible for National Planning, said he hoped the award would ensure that fearless freedom fighters like Imam Haron and others who sacrificed their lives when facing the might of the Apartheid security machinery, would always be remembered.

“Imam Haron was part of a generation that bravely took on the Apartheid regime in the 1960s, a time when the minority government brutally cracked down on the growing anti-Apartheid struggle in their effort to stop its momentum. It is crucial for future generations to always remember and reflect on the contributions made by selfless activists to the struggle for liberation in this country, and this award will ensure that Imam Haron receives the recognition he so richly deserves. His ultimate sacrifice served as a major source of inspiration for young activists, not only in Cape Town but also in the rest of the country, to continue their brave struggle which eventually brought about our freedom.”

Rashied Omar, Imam of the Claremont Main Rd Mosque, said the prestigious award was a fitting tribute to Imam Haron.

“Imam Haron was a towering figure in the struggle against apartheid and he paid the supreme sacrifice for his witness to social justice. Imam Haron died for the liberation of all the oppressed people of South Africa, and so it is most apposite that the Order of Luthuli be bestowed on him posthumously.

“At this time of reverence we remember that one of the greatest contributions to our struggle that Imam Haron made was that of empowering the youth. During Imam Haron's time, the Muslim youth of the day grappled with reconciling their anti-apartheid political convictions with their Islamic world view. Today, our Muslim youth grapple with many more, broader social issues that come into conflict with their Islamic value system. Imam's Haron's legacy of empowering the youth is a vision that we at the Claremont Main Road Masjid strive to continue to nurture and develop further.

“As we pay deserving homage at this time to the Imam, we also remember the great sacrifices of Imam Haron's wife, Aunty Galiema and his children, Shamela, Muhammed and Fatiema. May this belated award provide you with some solace that your beloved father gave his life to the cause of the oppressed which is the cause of our Loving and Compassionate God.”

Facebook page link