Victory for decency
SOMETIMES the wheels of justice turn slowly, but they turn, nevertheless – and those who committed horrific crimes during the apartheid era will be identified if they’re dead, and tried and sentenced if they are still alive.
This is the warning that was sent out to the butchers of apartheid in the Gauteng High Court yesterday.
Forty-six years ago, political activist Ahmed Timol fell to his death from the notorious John Vorster Square Police Station in Johannesburg.
Security Police, who had been interrogating him, said he had committed suicide. They claimed that he had jumped from the 10th floor of the building.
An inquest court, as inquest courts tended to do in those days, believed the Security Police’s version of events.
But Timol’s family did not agree with the court’s ruling. He would never have committed suicide, they said.
And so they kept on believing – even as the years flew by – that justice would eventually prevail.
And yesterday, the way was opened for them to take one giant step to ensure that it did.
“Timol did not jump,” Judge Billy Mothle ruled.
“He was pushed and thus he did not commit suicide.” He was murdered,” said the judge. He had been pushed from either the 10th floor of the building – or from the roof.
Judge Mothle found that the then Security Branch police officers who had interrogated Timol at the time, were collectively responsible for his death.
They should be held accountable, he said.
We commend the Timol family for continuing their fight for justice when everything seemed to be against them.
We believe that prosecution should be vigorously pursued against anyone still living who was involved in the murder of Timol – and if found guilty should be given maximum jail sentences.
But there are other cases too that need to be re-examined.
We urge the families of Steve Biko, Imam Abdullah Haron, Matthew Mabelane and Neil Aggett, who died in Security Police custody, to have their inquest cases re-opened.
And we call on all South Africans to support them.