Vic­tory for de­cency

Cape Argus - - Opinion -

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.

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