Ti­mol probe sig­nif­i­cant

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

THE Ahmed Ti­mol in­quest play­ing out in the Pretoria High Court this week makes for en­thralling viewing and com­pelling read­ing – all the more so since it is about the mur­der of a South African pa­triot and hero 46 years ago.

Ti­mol was a mem­ber of the SACP and uMkhonto weSizwe, ar­rested and in­ter­ro­gated by the apartheid regime’s no­to­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal po­lice – the Se­cu­rity Branch.

Of­fi­cers tor­tured him for in­for­ma­tion and then he man­aged to evade his tor­men­tors and kill him­self by fall­ing 10 storeys to his death from the no­to­ri­ous John Vorster Po­lice Sta­tion, to­day the Jo­han­nes­burg Cen­tral Po­lice Sta­tion.

At least that’s the of­fi­cial story. One that was ac­cepted with­out a mo­ment’s in­credulity by the pre­sid­ing mag­is­trate, ex­on­er­at­ing any­one in­volved.

Ti­mol’s mur­der was, in Thabo Mbeki’s words, the high wa­ter mark for the apartheid regime and the low­est mo­ment for the lib­er­a­tion move­ments – it was also a turn­ing point in the Strug­gle against apartheid.

But that notwith­stand­ing, his of­fi­cial cause of death though has never been con­tested – un­til now, thanks to the in­de­fati­ga­ble ef­forts of his fam­ily to have a proper in­quest con­ducted.

To­day, 24 years af­ter our demo­cratic lib­er­a­tion, we are faced with the har­row­ing tes­ti­monies of that era. Tales of bru­tal­ity so com­mon­place that it was ef­fec­tively le­git­i­mated – a heart of dark­ness that con­tin­ues to haunt us to this day.

The Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion did much to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment con­ducive to us be­gin­ning to rec­on­cile as a na­tion, but the re­al­ity is that much of our wounds have still not healed, the hurt re­mains, fes­ter­ing un­der the sur­face.

For true heal­ing, the scabs must be ripped off, the raw wounds ex­posed to al­low us all to peer in, take stock.

We need as a na­tion to truly un­der­stand what was done be­cause only once we have done this can we see how the fruits of to­day’s bit­ter harvest have their seeds in those dark days of re­pres­sion.

This is the im­por­tance of the Pretoria in­quest. We hope that once more in death, Ahmed Ti­mol can pro­vide an­other crit­i­cally im­por­tant turn­ing point – for us to fi­nally start find­ing one an­other as a na­tion.

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