Lest we for­get the he­roes of a war for jus­tice

Mail & Guardian - - Comment & Analysis -

For the chil­dren who never were, But may have been And for the par­ents who were, But were made to feel too much — Judge Billy Mothle has found that free­dom fighter Ahmed Ti­mol never com­mit­ted sui­cide, as the of­fi­cers from the old Se­cu­rity Branch of the po­lice claimed. “Ti­mol died as a re­sult of hav­ing be­ing pushed to fall, an act which was com­mit­ted by mem­bers of the Se­cu­rity Branch with do­lus even­tu­alis as the form of in­tent, and prima fa­cie amount­ing to mur­der.”

Ahmed Ti­mol was mur­dered.

He is one of many, many peo­ple who were killed as the apartheid state forced it­self on to the ma­jor­ity of South Africans. Ti­mol is one of many, many peo­ple whose loved ones have waited in vain for some kind of clo­sure for their loss.

His sur­viv­ing rel­a­tives now have their sus­pi­cions con­firmed. Ti­mol never took his own life. For them, at least, there is some so­lace.

But for many, clo­sure will re­main elu­sive.

So this is a mo­ment heavy with his­tory.

It is a mo­ment heavy, too, with feel­ings — many of them our own, as we try to dis­til the bear­ing of this rul­ing on all the other cases, all the other sus­pi­cious deaths in po­lice cus­tody.

But it is a mo­ment par­tic­u­larly heavy with the feel­ings of those who lost some­one in the fight against the apartheid regime. It is a mo­ment that we can­not al­low to run away from us.

There is an op­por­tu­nity in this mo­ment for us to take stock of how lit­tle has been re­cov­ered for those whose lives, land and dig­nity were stolen.

When Aunty Hawa Ti­mol tes­ti­fied be­fore the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion in 1996, she was de­ter­mined to know what ex­actly had hap­pened to her son in that po­lice sta­tion in 1971. She would die a year later, none the wiser.

Her words should be played back to us in this mo­ment, a re­minder of how much was lost in all these years.

“They killed him and said he com­mit­ted sui­cide.”

“I will not for­get what hap­pened.”

In a clip of her tes­ti­mony on­line, she speaks in Gu­jarati, her grief chok­ing her voice: “Ey nallo ooto.” It’s a sen­tence the trans­la­tor omits in the SABC footage, not es­sen­tial to the mean­ing of what she was con­vey­ing, but a haunt­ing echo for those able to catch her mean­ing.

“Ey nallo ooto.” He was a child.

This woman’s child was stolen from her by a mur­der­ous regime. It is a regime that mur­dered and plun­dered. It is a tyranny from which we are yet to re­cover. It is a regime whose crimes were never really pun­ished.

So, for the chil­dren who never were,

But may have been

And for the par­ents who were,

But were made to feel too much —

Long, long, long

May we re­mem­ber

Who you were.

Rest in peace, Ahmed Ti­mol. Rest in peace, Nokuthula Sime­lane.

Rest in peace Sol­wan­dle Ngu­dle, Belling­ton Mampe, James Tyita, Suli­man Salo­jee, Ngeni Gaga, Pon­golosha Hoye, James Ha­mak­wayo, Han­gula Sho­nyeka, Leong Pin, Ah Yan, Alpheus Madiba, Jun­dea

Tubukwa, Ni­code­mus Kgoathe, Solomon Modi­pane, James Lenkoe,

Caleb Mayek­iso, Michael Shivute, Ja­cob Mon­akgotla, Ab­dul­lah Ha­roon (Imam), Mthayeni Cuth­sela, Joseph Md­luli, Wil­liam Tsh­wane, Mapetla Mo­hapi, Luke Mazwembe, Du­misani Mbatha, Fenuel Mo­ga­tusi, Ja­cob Masha­bane, Ed­ward Mzolo, Ernest Ma­mashila, Tbalo Mos­ala, Welling­ton Ts­haz­ibane, Ge­orge Botha, Lawrence Ndzanga, Nanaotha Nt­shuntsha, El­mon Malele, Matthews Ma­belane, Twasifeni Joyi, Sa­muel Malinga,

Aaron Khoza, Phakamile Mabija, Eli­jah Loza, Hoosen Haf­fe­jee, Bayempin Mz­izi, Bantu Steve Biko, Sipho Malaza, Lungile Ta­bal­aza, Saul Ndzumo, Manana Mgqweto, Tshifhiwa Muofhe, Neil Aggett, Ernest Di­pale, Si­mon Mn­dawe, Paris Malatji, Sa­muel Tshikudo, Mx­olisi Sipele, Ephraim Mthethwa, An­dries Ra­dit­sela, Batandwa Ndondo, Makompe Ku­tumela, Peter Nch­a­baleng, Xoliso Ja­cobs, Si­mon Marule, Bene­dict Mashoke, Eric Mn­tonga, Nobandla Bani, Sithem­bele Zokwe, Al­fred Makaleng, Clay­ton Sizwe Sit­hole, Lu­cas Tl­hotl­homisang and Don­ald Tha­bela Madisha.

Rest in peace, the two “un­known per­sons” who died in de­ten­tion in 1968 and 1976 — they were not un­known to their loved ones.

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