Ti­mol was pushed to his death, judge rules

Daily Dispatch - - News - By SIPHO MABENA

THE Pre­to­ria High Court has pointed out key lessons for a demo­cratic South Africa‚ drawn from the re­opened in­quest into the death of ac­tivist Ahmed Ti­mol at the hands of the apartheid po­lice.

Judge Billy Mothle yes­ter­day found that the ini­tial 1972 in­quest‚ which ac­cepted that Ti­mol com­mit­ted sui­cide by jump­ing from the 10th floor of the no­to­ri­ous John Vorster Square in Jo­han­nes­burg‚ was part of a cover-up on the real cause of death‚ which was mur­der. He said all branches of the state should en­sure that the con­sti­tu­tional bound­aries set on re­spect for hu­man rights and dig­nity should never be crossed.

He said one of the lessons from this re­opened in­quest was that the re­open­ing came so late that most of the mem­bers of the Se­cu­rity Branch in­volved Ti­mol’s death and the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of it had died.

Mothle lamented that the court had to deal with the mys­te­ri­ous dis­ap­pear­ance of part of the 1972 in­quest record deal­ing with the ev­i­dence of the po­lice of­fi­cials‚ in par­tic­u­lar page 3 of the af­fi­davit of former apartheid po­lice sergeant Joao Ro­drigues.

The judge said this piece of ev­i­dence‚ ac­cord­ing to the 1972 in­quest mag­is­trate’s judg­ment‚ ex­plained how Ti­mol fell.

“Con­se­quently‚ the key po­lice wit­nesses who would have been called to tes­tify again in re­gard to the events pre­ced­ing the fall were not avail­able.

“It is there­fore im­por­tant for the fu­ture that the state en­sures that the records of in­quests are pre­served‚ con­sid­er­ing the fact that the [In­quest] Act pro­vides for re­open­ing with­out any lim­i­ta­tion as to time‚” Mothle said, adding the in­quest also re­vealed there were at least 65 more fam­i­lies seek­ing an­swers to ques­tions on the demise of their loved ones in de­ten­tion.

He said these fam­i­lies needed heal­ing and clo­sure‚ and it was the court’s view that these fam­i­lies – par­tic­u­larly where the orig­i­nal in­quest ruled the cause of death in de­ten­tion was sui­cide – should be as­sisted to gather in­for­ma­tion for the in­quest to be re­opened.

“The Hu­man Right Com­mis­sion‚ work­ing in con­sul­ta­tion with the law en­force­ment agen­cies‚ should be suf­fi­ciently re­sourced to take on this task‚” the judge said.

Mothle found Ti­mol was pushed from the 10th floor or roof of the build­ing with a clear in­ten­tion to mur­der him, and that there was prima fa­cie ev­i­dence im­pli­cat­ing apartheid po­lice cap­tains Hans Gloy and Faan van Niek­erk. The judge said the duo were “on duty and in­ter­ro­gat­ing Ti­mol at the time”.

“Ro­drigues‚ in his own ver­sion‚ par­tic­i­pated in the cover-up to con­ceal the crime of mur­der as an ac­ces­sory after the fact‚ and went on to com­mit per­jury by pre­sent­ing con­tra­dic­tory ev­i­dence be­fore the 1972 and 2017 in­quests. He should ac­cord­ingly be in­ves­ti­gated with a view to his prose­cu­tion.” — DDC

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