Timol’s brother takes the stand
AS THE inquest into political activist Ahmed Timol’s death entered its fourth day, Timol’s brother, Mohammad, took the witness stand yesterday to describe how he found out about his brother’s death and that he was not allowed to attend his burial.
Mohammad said his brother was someone who loved life and would have had no inclination to end his own life.
He added that he was in a healthy frame of mind and would not have committed suicide.
During the first inquest, the judge used a document purported to have been written by the communist party saying in the event of an arrest, members should rather commit suicide than sell out their comrades.
However, Mohammad said at no point in his training abroad was he ever told this.
During his testimony, Mohammad detailed how he was tortured for days during his detention in Durban, until a day before he was told about his brother’s death.
After he was told about the death, he was then left alone and never bothered again.
Prof Kantilal Naik, who also testified yesterday, said he was detained in October 1971, tortured and released months later without being formally charged.
During his detention, he said, he was subjected to severe physical abuse that his hands lost their functionality.
He could not even perform the most basic of functions with them.
He was detained at the offices of the infamous 10th floor of John Vorster Square, now called the Johannesburg Central police station.
“My hands became immobilised, and very much so the right hand,” Naik said. Naik said the period following his release was not an easy one as many people in his community believed he had sold Timol out to the security police.
“It was not an easy period. All the people within the community felt that I was the guy that was actually responsible for Timol’s death, which is not true.
“I did not say anything regarding this to other people, and so that became a not pleasant time for me,” he said.
“But the truth eventually came forward and people knew that I was not responsible for Timol’s death.”
He said Timol was a good friend of his and they worked together at the Roodepoort Indian High School.
Naik added that it was still difficult for him to make public statements about the matter to show that he had not put Timol in a compromising position.
Thanking the judge for the opportunity to tell his story, Naik said it had not been easy living under a cloud of suspicion of being a police spy.
“One went through a nasty time. I am thanking to you for listening to my story,” he said.
The inquest enters its fifth and last day for this month today. The next round of hearings will be held in July.
Timol died in 1971 while in police custody. An inquest was held in 1972 and the magistrate ruled his death as suicide and that no one could be held responsible.