Ti­mol ‘an in­spi­ra­tion to free­dom fight­ers’

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - KHAYA KOKO Khaya.koko@inl.co.za

MAK­ING an­other emo­tional re­turn to the place where his un­cle Ahmed Ti­mol died trag­i­cally, Im­tiaz Ca­jee is adamant about one thing: “My un­cle is not a vic­tim!”

Ca­jee was speak­ing to The Star yes­ter­day on the 10th floor of the Johannesburg Cen­tral po­lice sta­tion – for­merly known as John Vorster Square – where Ti­mol plunged 10 storeys in Oc­to­ber 1971 while be­ing held in de­ten­tion by apartheid po­lice.

Ca­jee was on an on-sight visit to the po­lice sta­tion led by Judge J Mothle for the re­open­ing of the in­quest into his un­cle’s death, which was ruled a sui­cide by mag­is­trate JL de Villiers in June 1972.

Ca­jee con­tended that Ti­mol and his friend Dr Salim Es­sop played a small but im­por­tant role in try­ing to re­vive the anti-apartheid Strug­gle by dis­tribut­ing then banned SACP and ANC lit­er­a­ture. Es­sop was ar­rested with Ti­mol with the banned lit­er­a­ture in a car in which they were travelling.

“They were not vic­tims, but free­dom fight­ers. The apartheid regime had thought they had crushed all forms of op­po­si­tion fol­low­ing Sharpeville. And here comes a cell dis­tribut­ing po­lit­i­cal lit­er­a­ture. If the se­cu­rity branch thought they had crushed all forms of op­po­si­tion, they were mistaken be­cause it (Ti­mol’s death) in­spired a new gen­er­a­tion of free­dom fight­ers,” Ca­jee stressed.

Es­sop was also at the on-sight visit, where he took the in­quest’s pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer, Judge Mothle, to room 1013, where he said he was “bru­tally” tortured for roughly four days fol­low­ing his ar­rest, and room 1026, where Ti­mol al­legedly jumped to his death.

Es­sop also demon­strated to the judge what he said were Ti­mol’s move­ments the last time he saw him alive.

He re­mem­bered see­ing him drag­ging his feet past room 1013 with a hood over his head and two po­lice of­fi­cers on ei­ther side of him. Es­sop said his com­rade had looked se­verely in­jured and in pain.

Ca­jee said it was painful to hear this, and painful to re­turn to a build­ing in which his un­cle had been sub­ject to such bru­tal­ity.

“Ev­ery time one comes here, it doesn’t get any eas­ier – it be­comes more dif­fi­cult and painful.”

PAC ac­tivist and for­mer trade union­ist Phillip Dh­lamini re­vealed it was his sixth time at the po­lice sta­tion – and the first with­out shack­les.

Dh­lamini said he was also fa­mil­iar with the no­to­ri­ous vault in room 1013, which he said was re­ferred to as Die Waarkamer (The Truth Room).

“There is the money bag, which they will put over your head and pour wa­ter over it,” he re­mem­bered.

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