Ti­mol’s brother takes the stand

The New Age (KwaZulu-Natal) - - News - LIL­LIAN SELAPISA lil­lians@the­newage.co.za

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.

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