Ti­mol’s in­juries too se­vere for jump from win­dow, say ex­perts

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - ZELDA VEN­TER

TWO foren­sic pathol­o­gists who tes­ti­fied in the Ahmed Ti­mol in­quest agreed that he had suf­fered such se­vere in­juries while in de­ten­tion at John Vorster Square that it would have been im­pos­si­ble for him to have flung him­self out of the win­dow.

Un­less he was as­sisted out of the win­dow, it would have been im­pos­si­ble for Ti­mol in his state to climb on to the win­dow sill and jump out, Prof Steve Naidoo told the high court in Pretoria yes­ter­day.

He and Dr Sha­keera Hol­land agreed that Ti­mol had suf­fered a mas­sive de­pressed skull frac­ture prior to fall­ing out of the win­dow. This alone would have ren­dered him in and out of con­scious­ness. Naidoo de­tected a fur­ther se­vere frac­ture to Ti­mol’s left an­kle – suf­fered while in de­ten­tion – which would have also made it im­pos­si­ble for him to walk, let alone climb on to the high ledge.

“In his state, he would have cer­tainly not been able to sit up or walk,” Naidoo pointed out.

The two ex­perts took the stand dur­ing the sec­ond leg of the in­quest into the death of Ti­mol, 46 years ago.

The se­cu­rity po­lice at the time main­tained that Ti­mol had com­mit­ted sui­cide four days af­ter his ar­rest, by jump­ing out of the win­dow of room 1026 – la­belled the “truth room”.

A mag­is­trate who presided over the in­quest in the 1970s agreed with this. The Ti­mol fam­ily, how­ever, asked for the re­open­ing of the in­quest as they did not be­lieve he had com­mit­ted sui­cide.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, Ti­mol had been treated well and was drinking a cup of cof­fee in the com­pany of Sergeant Joao Ro­driguez when he un­ex­pect­edly jumped from the win­dow. It was so quick that Ro­driguez had no time to stop him, the po­lice claimed.

But the two ex­perts said apart from the frac­tured skull, which would have ren­dered him in­ca­pac­i­tated, he also had a shat­tered jaw. This would have ren­dered him un­able to talk, let alone have cof­fee.

Naidoo said he vis­ited room 1026 this week and it was 2m by by 6m in size. Ro­driguez was a big man, he said, and he could have sim­ply reached out and stopped Ti­mol if he tried to jump out of the win­dow.

Hol­land and Naidoo both came to the same find­ings af­ter study­ing the 1971 post-mortem reports fol­low­ing Ti­mol’s death that year. Naidoo, how­ever, made an ad­di­tional find­ing that Ti­mol had suf­fered a mas­sive lower leg frac­ture. This in­jury, he said, could have been caused by some­thing like an iron rod.

Both Hol­land and Naidoo said based on their med­i­cal ex­per­tise and af­ter study­ing his in­juries, they too, did not be­lieve it was sui­cide.

Hol­land said sev­eral of the in­juries were caused be­fore his fall and these should be ex­plained by his cap­tors.

Naidoo said of the listed 35 in­juries which Ti­mol had suf­fered, only about 10 were re­lated to his fall. The rest were in­juries across his body on ar­eas which would not have been im­pacted by the fall. He at­trib­uted these in­juries to blunt force trauma meted out be­fore the fall.

Hol­land demon­strated by means of a plas­tic brain that the skull bone is very thick and it would need se­vere blunt force trauma to shat­ter it.

This would not have been con­sis­tent with a fist blow, she said, agree­ing that it would be con­sis­tent with a per­son ly­ing on the ground and be­ing kicked with a steeled boot.

Ti­mol also had a num­ber of fa­cial in­juries, in­clud­ing a frac­tured jaw and nose. These in­juries could have been caused by blows or punches to the face, she said.

He also had a num­ber of bruises to his up­per legs and groin area, con­sis­tent with re­peated “mule” kick­ing. This would have ham­pered his walk­ing or mov­ing about, Hol­land said.

An­other se­vere in­jury not caused in her opin­ion by the fall, was the frac­ture of the first rib. This rib, she ex­plained, was lo­cated in a pro­tected area and it would take se­vere force to break it.

Both Naidoo and Hol­land also de­tected a vast num­ber of

He was al­ready un­con­scious and un­able to walk

bruises and lac­er­a­tions across Ti­mol’s body, which were be­tween four to six days old – thus suf­fered be­fore the fall.

Both were of the opin­ion that Ti­mol was still alive af­ter the fall, but that he passed away shortly af­ter­wards.

The in­quest con­tin­ues.

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