Security cops ‘covered up’ for each other in Timol case
“WHAT these people did was criminal. They were a brotherhood within the security police and they covered up for each other.”
This was the evidence of top criminal investigator Frank Dutton, who was the first head of the police’s former elite Scorpions unit, which was later replaced by the Hawks.
Dutton was asked in 1997 by the Timol family to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death. He took the stand in the high court in Pretoria yesterday to testify in the second leg of the inquest into Timol’s death.
The former crack cop concluded there was a police cover-up over Timol’s death. “I submit that the version of the police of what happened must be viewed with considerable suspicion and caution. In my view, it is most likely a fabrication,” Dutton said.
He asked why the police – adamant that Timol had jumped out of the window of the “truth room” 1026 – did not bring in an independent investigator for the inquiry into the case. Instead, the head of the detective branch in Pretoria was brought in. The inquiry had hardly begun when the investigator told the media that in his view Timol had committed suicide. “Clearly he was not impartial, nor did he have an open mind as to the cause of death.”
He questioned why none of the black members working on the notorious 10th floor of John Vorster Square were asked for statements.
He said the police did not meet even the basic requirements in their investigation into Timol’s death. At least two investigations should have been conducted: an inquest to establish the cause of death and whether anyone was responsible, and an administrative inquiry to determine if a police member had contravened regulations by allowing Timol to exit the building while in detention.
Dutton said the entire facility should have been swept for evidence and every person working there should have been questioned. Hardly any fingerprints were taken and it wasn’t established whether there was any blood in the interrogation room. That Timol’s body was removed within minutes of the fall also indicated a cover-up.
Adding to the bizarre events was the fact that Sergeant Joao Rodriguez, the administrative clerk at John Vorster Square who was the only person said to have been present when Timol “jumped”, received a letter of commendation for his services.
DOUBTS: Investigator Frank Dutton told the Timol inquest yesterday the police’s version of events was most likely a fabrication. PICTURE: THOBILE MATHONSI