New voices of po­lice con­science emerge in Ti­mol in­quest

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - ZELDA VEN­TER

“WE can only hope that the con­science of at least some of them (the se­cu­rity branch of the po­lice) will lead them to re­veal the truth, be­fore they are buried like their vic­tims,” Ad­vo­cate Ge­orge Bi­zos wrote in his book No one to Blame on the death of po­lit­i­cal de­tainee Ahmed Ti­mol in po­lice cus­tody in 1971.

This hope may ma­te­ri­alise, as sev­eral for­mer se­cu­rity po­lice of­fi­cers have taken Gaut­eng High Court, Pre­to­ria, Judge Billy Mothle up on his plea for any­one with in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to the death of Ti­mol from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square Po­lice Sta­tion, to come for­ward.

Dr Torie Pre­to­rius, lead­ing the team act­ing for the Na­tional Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions (NDPP), this week told the court they had been con­tacted by var­i­ous po­ten­tial new wit­nesses, in­clud­ing for­mer se­cu­rity po­lice of­fi­cers, who were keen on as­sist­ing the court.

Judge Mothle said his of­fice was also con­tacted by for­mer of­fi­cers who had re­sponded to his plea.

Pre­to­rius and his team will work through­out the week­end to con­sult these peo­ple to see whether they could con­trib­ute to the in­quest.

He told the court some of the wit­nesses were afraid to tes­tify, but he said it was im­por­tant to lis­ten to them.

If they take the stand next week, it will mean the sec­ond leg of the in­quest re­lat­ing to the hear­ing of ev­i­dence will be ex­tended to Wed­nes­day.

Ev­i­dence be­fore the court was due to con­clude this week, but Judge Mothle said he would ex­tend the hear­ing for a few days if hear­ing these wit­nesses would be fruit­ful.

The mag­is­trate who heard the in­quest in 1972 con­cluded no one was to blame and that Ti­mol had com­mit­ted sui­cide. He ac­cepted the ev­i­dence from po­lice that Ti­mol was not as­saulted prior to his death.

Ti­mol’s younger brother Mo­hammed Ti­mol and Bi­zos were the only two peo­ple who had at­tended that in­quest and who are now in court, at­tend­ing the sec­ond leg of the in­quest af­ter 45 years.

Mo­hammed said he be­lieved the truth will now emerge for the first time.

But there were still many ques­tions, such as when ex­actly did Ti­mol plunge to his death – dur­ing the morn­ing as claimed by two wit­nesses or in the af­ter­noon, as claimed by the po­lice.

A pathol­o­gist who was re­called to the wit­ness stand to un­ravel the mys­tery, was un­able to say whether it was morn­ing or af­ter­noon.

Dr Steve Naidoo said it was equally pos­si­ble that Ti­mol could have plunged to his death mid- morn­ing or mid- af­ter­noon.

Ab­dulla Adam, now 70, who was work­ing at the petrol sta­tion across the road from John Vorster Square in 1971, when Ti­mol fell, was adamant it hap­pened around 10am that morn­ing.

“I am cer­tain of the time, be­cause 10am was tea time. Tea time was very im­por­tant to me,” he told the court.

Adam said his for­mer boss wit­nessed the fall from his of­fice, which looked out on John Vorster Square. But he has passed away.

A pre­vi­ous wit­ness who was fill­ing his car with petrol at the time, also placed the time of the fall dur­ing mid-morn­ing.

While the an­swers to many of these ques­tions may have gone to the grave, the Ti­mol fam­ily is pin­ning their hopes that this week might bring some an­swers and the clo­sure they have hoped for over the past 46 years.

PICTURE: JAC­QUES NAUDE

Judge Billy Mothle at the in­quest into the death of Ahmed Ti­mol, Gaut­eng High Court, Pre­to­ria.

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