Painful day for Ti­mol fam­ily

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - ZELDA VEN­TER

TO­DAY is ex­pected to be a par­tic­u­larly har­row­ing day for the fam­ily of Ahmed Ti­mol as they come face to face with the man said to have been in the room on the day the anti-apartheid ac­tivist plunged to his death.

For­mer se­cu­rity po­lice of­fi­cer Joao Ro­driguez, 78, is ex­pected to take the stand this morn­ing in the Gaut­eng High Court, Pre­to­ria, dur­ing the sec­ond leg of the in­quest into Ti­mol’s death.

The last time Ro­driguez re­lived the events of 1971 – when the then 29-year-old Ti­mol was in­ter­ro­gated at the then John Vorster Square – was dur­ing the in­quest in 1972.

The mag­is­trate at the time ac­cepted the ev­i­dence of the po­lice that Ti­mol was not tor­tured and had opted of his own ac­cord to sud­denly jump out of the win­dow of the no­to­ri­ous 10th floor of the build­ing.

Ro­driguez at the time tes­ti­fied that he tried to stop Ti­mol from jump­ing, but was too late.

How­ever, dur­ing the past few weeks the court heard a to­tally dif­fer­ent story, which in­cluded how po­lit­i­cal de­tainees at the time were tor­tured by the se­cu­rity po­lice. Foren­sic ev­i­dence re­vealed a host of in­juries that Ti­mol suf­fered be­fore he fell to his death.

They in­cluded a mas­sive skull frac­ture, which ac­cord­ing to the ex­perts must have been caused by some­thing like a steel pipe. The in­jury was so se­vere the ex­perts said he would not have been able to walk, let alone jump out of the win­dow.

The fam­ily is now pin­ning their hopes on Ro­driguez and fel­low se­cu­rity po­lice­man, Sergeant Neville Els, to speak up to­day. Els, now 80, was a se­cu­rity branch in­ter­roga­tor, but did not di­rectly in­ter­ro­gate Ti­mol.

Mo­hammed Ti­mol, the younger brother of Ahmed, said see­ing Ro­driguez to­day would rouse emo­tions. “But we don’t want vengeance, we want the truth. He was said to be the last per­son in the room the day my brother was said to have jumped. We plead with him to come and tell us what re­ally hap­pened on that fate­ful day.”

Mo­hammed said the ev­i­dence thus far showed a cover-up, and the fam­ily and the pub­lic were en­ti­tled to know the truth.

His plea to Ro­driguez was to “please come and tell the truth, so you can per­haps find peace within your­self and we can know the truth”.

A close friend of Ti­mol, Dr Saleem Es­sop, ar­rested with him and de­tained at John Vorster Square, also called on Ro­driguez to tell the truth. Es­sop was so se­verely tor­tured that he nearly died and had to be rushed to hos­pi­tal.

“We sim­ply want to es­tab­lish the truth dur­ing this in­quest – how it came about that Ti­mol died. We hope Mr Ro­driguez will give a true ac­count of what ac­tu­ally hap­pened in room 1026. The po­lice ver­sion is con­tested by us and we hope Ro­driguez will paint an ac­cu­rate pic­ture,” Es­sop said.

Both Els and Ro­driguez were sub­poe­naed by the court to ap­pear be­fore it to­day.

SACP mem­ber Ron­nie Kas­rils is set to take the stand this week.

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