Timol ruling sets us free
Let me congratulate Ra’eesa Pather on the article “Justice for Timol leaves us with bittersweet grief” (October 13), which eloquently captured the sentiments of many of us who knew Ahmed Timol and what he believed in and fought for. I knew Ahmed and his family as a friend and neighbour in Roodepoort, until I left South Africa in 1962 to recommence my education in England. Ahmed and I spent hours together on our stoep, discussing the brutality of apartheid.
The next time I met Ahmed was in London in 1968. I was honoured by his presence at my wedding but little did I realise that this was the last time I would see him alive. On October 29 1971, while at work in my college, I came across the Manchester Guardian’s story of Ahmed’s death. I sent a telegram to his family clearly stating that we did not believe Ahmed committed suicide. Since that fateful day, I have not had a single moment of doubt that he was brutally murdered by the security apparatus of the apartheid regime. (I elaborate on this aspect in my memoirs, The Cycle of Life, to be published soon.)
When Judge Billy Mothle announced his verdict, the overriding emotions I experienced were relief and liberation. Now, after 46 years, the truth, which all those who knew Ahmed well have never doubted, has been established.
We now need to celebrate Ahmed’s life for his contribution to the struggle to establish a free and democratic South Africa. He was a kind, compassionate, articulate person who cared more for the poor and oppressed people in South Africa than for his own wellbeing. He was a gifted batsman in cricket, an admired teacher and a modest role model for many of us.
Ahmed’s legacy lives on through Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee and Mohammad Timol, his nephew and his brother, in their integrity, courage, tenacity and persistence in establishing the truth publicly, despite setbacks. It also restores our faith in the South African judicial system and gives hope that the truth can be established about the other 72 people who died in detention.
I am enormously privileged and proud to have known Ahmed Timol and his family. I admire what his nephew and his brother have achieved to end the years of denial.
Remembered: Those who knew Ahmed Timol and his family never for a moment believed that he committed suicide, a close friend says