‘Ac­tivist would never have taken his life’

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - ZELDA VEN­TER

FOR­MER min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency and Strug­gle vet­eran, Es­sop Pa­had, told the high court in Pre­to­ria that Ahmed Ti­mol would not have com­mit­ted sui­cide.

Be­sides it not be­ing in his na­ture, it was against Is­lam and he was a man who was very much in love at the time.

Pa­had yes­ter­day took the stand in the sec­ond leg of the in­quest into Ti­mol’s death in 1971. The po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist was killed when he fell out of a 10th-storey win­dow of the no­to­ri­ous John Vorster Square in Joburg.

While po­lice main­tained it was sui­cide – a find­ing made by a mag­is­trate fol­low­ing an in­quest – his fam­ily in­sisted on hav­ing it re-opened as they did not be­lieve it.

This sen­ti­ment was shared by Pa­had, who said he and Ti­mol were very close friends. Pa­had told Judge Billy Mothle that Ti­mol joined him while he was in ex­ile in the UK. Ti­mol was called back to South Africa by the SACP. This was shortly be­fore his ar­rest and his death.

Pa­had said on the last oc­ca­sion he saw Ti­mol, they spoke about the pos­si­bil­ity and the dan­gers of be­ing ar­rested.

“At that time, we had in­for­ma­tion about oth­ers who were ar­rested and tor­tured by mem­bers of Se­cu­rity Branch… I told him it is not trai­tor­ous to break un­der tor­ture.”

Pa­had said Ti­mol was also aware that he could go to jail for a long time over his po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties. “He was not at all scared to face a long prison term.”

Pa­had said apart from sui­cide be­ing against Ti­mol’s re­li­gion, he also fell in love at the time with Ruth Lon­goni, who re­mained in Lon­don when Ti­mol re­turned to South Africa.

“She could not join him be­cause of the Im­moral­ity Act in South Africa, but she al­ways be­lieved he would come back to her.”

Pa­had also re­jected a doc­u­ment pur­ported to have been is­sued by the SACP, in which it urged its mem­bers who were in­ter­ro­gated and tor­tured, to com­mit sui­cide. He called the doc­u­ment a fab­ri­ca­tion and an at­tempt by the po­lice to ex­on­er­ate them­selves.

Med­i­cal and trauma ex­pert Prof Ken­neth Bof­fard tes­ti­fied that Ti­mol suf­fered life-threat­en­ing in­juries when he fell out of the win­dow. Apart from a skull frac­ture, he also suf­fered, among oth­ers, a spinal in­jury and a frac­tured up­per leg and arm.

He ob­tained this in­for­ma­tion af­ter he stud­ied the post-mortem re­port on Ti­mol’s death.

Ac­cord­ing to Bof­fard, there were sev­eral bruises on Ti­mol’s body and an or­bital in­jury, which ap­peared to have been there be­fore his fall.

He said the po­lice should have never moved Ti­mol when they found him in the gar­den of John Vorster Square, af­ter the fall. Ac­cord­ing to him, it was stan­dard prac­tice not to move a pa­tient with such se­ri­ous in­juries un­til an am­bu­lance had ar­rived, as this could worsen the pa­tient’s con­di­tion.

He also frowned upon the fact that the po­lice im­me­di­ately re­moved the then still­breath­ing Ti­mol from where he was ly­ing out­side the build­ing. He said he was very sur­prised that Ti­mol was moved, as the po­lice were usu­ally re­luc­tant to move a pa­tient be­cause they could be held li­able if any­thing went wrong.

The in­quest is pro­ceed­ing, with two foren­sic pathol­o­gists ex­pected to tes­tify to­day.

It was against Is­lam and he was in love at the time

PIC­TURE: THO­BILE MATHONSI

AT­TEND­ING PRO­CEED­INGS: Ahmed Ti­mol’s brother Mo­ham­mad Ti­mol, left, with his nephew, Ahmed Ca­jee, in court.

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