Murder most foul
A historic judgment yesterday in the High Court in Pretoria finds that activist Ahmed Timol did not commit suicide in 1971, but was tortured and murdered by apartheid-era police.
Spontaneous applause yesterday greeted a historic judgment in the High Court in Pretoria when Judge Billy Mothle ruled anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol had not committed suicide, but was tortured and murdered by members of the apartheid government’s security branch.
In a first in South African history, Judge Mothle yesterday overturned the finding of a 1972 inquest that Timol, a prominent member of the SA Communist Party, had committed suicide on October 27, 1971, by jumping out of a tenth-storey window at John Vorster Square in Johannesburg and that no person was responsible for his death.
The inquest was reopened after a long battle, led by Timol’s nephew Imtiaz Cajee, who was only five when his uncle was murdered.
Judge Mothle found that Timol did not jump, but had been pushed out of either a tenth-storey window or from the roof of John Vorster Square while being interrogated and tortured by the late captains Hans Gloy and Faan van Niekerk of the security police.
Because the interrogators have all died, the real events leading to the push could, however, not be established.
He found that all members of the security branch involved with the interrogation and who guarded Timol were collectively responsible for the injuries he sustained before his fall and that the injuries were inflicted through systematic and continuous torture.
The judge said it was probable that the security branch had foreseen that their methods of interrogation carried the risk of death, but they persisted unrestrained.
Judge Mothle found that Joao (Jan) Rodrigues, the former security police pay clerk who testified that he had seen Timol jump, had been brought in afterwards to cover up Timol’s murder and he had committed perjury by lying in both inquests. He was therefore an accessory after the fact to the murder.
He recommended that Rodri- gues should be prosecuted.
He also recommended that former security cops Neville Els and Seth Sons should be investigated for misleading the court that they knew nothing about the assault on detainees other than what they had read in the media.
LONG JOURNEY. Ahmed Timol’s nephew Imtiaz Cajee during court proceedings in the Ahmed Timol inquest in Pretoria yesterday. Cajee was instrumental in getting the inquest reopened.
JOY. Ahmed Timol’s younger brother Mohamed Timol, right, Essop Pahad, centre, and Imtiaz Cajee celebrate after Judge Billy Mothle’s judgment on the inquest.
JUSTICE AT LAST. Advocate George Bizos outside the court yesterday. Judge Billy Mothle found the anti-apartheid activist was murdered.