Ti­mol’s death in­quest re­opened

In­quest into apartheid-era ac­tivist’s death re­opened due to new ev­i­dence five decades af­ter his de­ten­tion in 1971

The New Age (Free State) - - GAUTENG NEWS - NONDUMISO ZWANE non­du­misoz@the­newage.co.za

AL­MOST five decades af­ter anti-apartheid ac­tivist Ahmed Ti­mol’s death in de­ten­tion in 1971, his fam­ily’s strug­gle to find the truth has reached fruition with South Gaut­eng High Court judge pres­i­dent Billy Mothle set to over­see the re­open­ing of the in­quest into his death.

The in­quest will be heard on three dates af­ter pend­ing for 45 years. It will be­gin on June 26 and run un­til June 30, then re­sume on July 24 un­til Au­gust 4, with the fi­nal dates on Au­gust 10 and 11.

Ti­mol’s nephew Im­tiaz Ahmed Ca­jee, who has been wag­ing a bat­tle to find the truth, said: “Our im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity is to have the apartheid- era in­quest find­ing of no­body to blame, re­versed.”

A pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tion on be­half of the Ti­mol fam­ily pre­sented ev­i­dence to the National Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity ( NPA) in Jan­uary 2016.

They ar­gued that apartheid- era mag­is­trate JJL de Vil­liers had erred in his find­ings and pro­vided com­pelling ev­i­dence to the NPA ne­ces­si­tat­ing the re­open­ing of the in­quest in the in­ter­est of jus­tice.

De Vil­liers con­cluded dur­ing the orig­i­nal Ti­mol in­quest in 1972 that he was not tor­tured dur­ing his de­ten­tion, the se­cu­rity branch of­fi­cers were cred­i­ble wit­nesses and that the de­tainee had com­mit­ted sui­cide. He found no­body re­spon­si­ble for Ti­mol’s death.

Ti­mol’s fam­ily mem­bers and close friends never be­lieved that he had com­mit­ted sui­cide by jump­ing from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square police sta­tion dur­ing his in­ter­ro­ga­tion by se­cu­rity police.

They be­lieved that Ti­mol was ei­ther tor­tured to death and thrown from the build­ing or pushed. They re­mained con­vinced that the in­quest was a coverup. Ti­mol was the 22nd per­son to die in police cus­tody un­der apartheid and many more were to fol­low.

Ca­jee said he would pro­vide per­ti­nent de­tails sur­round­ing the ar­rest, de­ten­tion and death of his un­cle in the sec­ond edi­tion of his book, Ti­mol: The Elu­sive Truth, which he in­tends to pub­lish.

“Our im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity is to have the find­ing of ‘no­body to blame’ re­versed. My grand­mother was hu­mil­i­ated by mag­is­trate De Vil­liers and branded a liar when she tes­ti­fied how a se­cu­rity branch of­fi­cer told her that she had not given her son a hid­ing when grow­ing up and that they were go­ing to do this for her.

My grand­mother has since died but she will be smil­ing at the news of the re­open­ing of the in­quest,” Ca­jee said.

Ti­mol was a teacher, a mem­ber of the South African Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) and anti-apartheid ac­tivist.

The SACP has wel­comed the re­open­ing of the in­quest, say­ing it needed to be thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated.

“This will help as­sist with get­ting clo­sure. The whole his­tory of apartheid must be un­cov­ered fully and steps be taken as there are cases which have not been un­earthed at all,” spokesper­son Alex Mashilo said.

Oth­ers who died in de­ten­tion were Dr Neil Aggett, Wellington Ts­haz­ibane, El­mon Malele, Matthews Ma­balena, Ernest Di­pale, Clayton Sizwe Sit­hole and Stanza Bopape.

FIND­ING TRUTH: Judge pres­i­dent Billy Mothle of the Joburg high court will over­see the re­open­ing of the case of Ahmed Ti­mol’s death in de­ten­tion.

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