Ti­mol was ‘pushed to his death’

Matthews Ma­belane’s fam­ily live in hope the truth will out after the death in de­ten­tion of their loved one

The New Age (Gauteng) - - NEWS - ZODIDI MHLANA zo­didim@the­newage.co.za

THE judg­ment in the in­quiry into apartheid ac­tivist Ahmed Ti­mol’s death has opened old wounds but also cre­ated hope for the fam­ily of Matthews Ma­belane who died in de­ten­tion in 1977.

Yes­ter­day, upon hear­ing judge Billy Mothle con­firm that po­lice had lied about Ti­mol com­mit­ting sui­cide and in fact he had been mur­dered by the po­lice, the fam­ily said it be­lieved the same thing hap­pened to Ma­bal­ane.

His younger brother, Lasch Ma­belane, said they still needed an­swers about his death.

He said his brother was de­tained after tak­ing part in the 1976 Soweto up­ris­ings, only for po­lice to later in­form the fam­ily that he had com­mit­ted sui­cide.

“We are de­lighted with the judg­ment. It gives us hope to find an­swers about how my brother died.

“It’s very dif­fi­cult for us to be­lieve that he took his own life. He loved life,” Lasch said.

Ti­mol died in Oc­to­ber 1971 while in po­lice cus­tody a few days after his ar­rest. An in­quest was held in 1972 and the mag­is­trate ruled that it was sui­cide, say­ing that no one could be held ac­count­able for his death.

Judge Mothle how­ever found yes­ter­day Ti­mol did not jump out of the 10th floor win­dow of John Vorster po­lice sta­tion, but was pushed.

“Ti­mol did not meet his death be­cause he com­mit­ted sui­cide.

“Ti­mol died as a re­sult of hav­ing been 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,” Mothle ruled.

The judge said that Ti­mol was pushed dur­ing in­ter­ro­ga­tion as the po­lice were try­ing to ex­tract information from him. He also said that there was not enough ev­i­dence to prove that the po­lice in­ten­tion­ally wanted to kill Ti­mol.

The judge re­jected claims by the se­cu­rity branch mem­bers that Ti­mol was not as­saulted.

Mothle rec­om­mended that for­mer se­cu­rity branch of­fi­cer Joao Ro­drigues should be in­ves­ti­gated and pros­e­cuted for giv­ing con­tra­dic­tory ev­i­dence and ly­ing un­der oath.

Ro­drigues tes­ti­fied dur­ing the ini­tial in­quest in 1972 and to the re­opened in­quest this year.

“Ro­drigues, in his own ver­sion, par­tic­i­pated in the cover up to con­ceal the crime of mur­der as an ac­ces­sory after the fact of that mur­der and went on to com­mit per­jury by pre­sent­ing con­tra­dic­tory ev­i­dence be­fore the 1972 and 2017 in­quests,” the judge ruled.

Re­act­ing to the judg­ment, Ti­mol’s nephew Im­tiaz Ca­jee said the judg­ment had vin­di­cated the fam­ily.

“We never be­lieved that un­cle Ti­mol com­mit­ted sui­cide.

“We al­ways main­tained that he was mur­dered. This judg­ment reaf­firmed our view.

Nkosi­nathi Biko from the Steve Biko Foun­da­tion de­scribed the judg­ment as a vic­tory to all the fam­i­lies whose rel­a­tives were killed in de­ten­tion un­der apartheid.

“The fact that there were no pros­e­cu­tions arose from a lack of po­lit­i­cal will.

“The Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity should re­think some of its de­ci­sions,” Biko said.

Biko’s fa­ther, Steve Biko, was bru­tally killed in de­ten­tion by se­cu­rity branch mem­bers.

PIC­TURE: HER­BERT MATIMBA

VIN­DI­CATED: Mo­hamed, younger brother of Ahmed Ti­mol, holds up the book writ­ten by his nephew Im­tiaz Ca­jee ahead of the judg­ment of the Ti­mol in­quest at the North Gaut­eng High Court in Pre­to­ria yes­ter­day.

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