Seeking justice for Ahmed Timol
● Documentary delves into politically active teacher’s 1971 death
The documentary Someone to Blame will be aired on Sunday on SABC 3 at 7.30pm.
The 54-minute documentary is Part 2 of the historic precedent-setting inquest into the death of Ahmed Timol, the 29year-old Roodepoort school teacher and political activist who was said to have committed suicide by jumping out of the 10th floor of the former John Vorster Square police station (now Johannesburg police station) on October 27 1971.
The original sham of an inquest held on June 22 1972 returned a verdict that there was no living person responsible for his death despite overwhelm- ing evidence of gruesome torture. The Roodepoort teacher’s loved ones did not believe Timol, the 22nd person to die in police custody, had jumped from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square while being interrogated by security police. They believed he was either tortured to death and then thrown from the window, or pushed.
Timol’s nephew Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee made it his personal quest to find those responsible for his beloved uncle’s death and was the main driving force behind getting the inquest reopened.
“Our immediate priority is to have the apartheid inquest finding of ‘Nobody to Blame’ reversed,” he said.
A private investigation on behalf of the Timol family with the assistance of the Foundation of Human Rights (FHR), presented evidence to the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) in January 2016.
The Timol family argued that the apartheid-era magist rate J JL de Villiers had erred in his findings and provided compelling evidence to the NPA necessitating the reopening of the inquest.
About 45 years later over a period of three months from June to August, spanning 20 days in both the Johannesburg High Court and the South Gauteng High Court, riveting testimony was heard of how former political detainees were tortured, therefore proving conclusively that Timol himself was tortured.
Expert witnesses steadily built up a case to expose the weaknesses of the first inquest.
Playing out to a riveted national audience, the inquest gripped the nation. Judge Billy Mothle in his opening remarks stated, “There is no doubt in my mind that during these proceedings we, as South Africans are about to enter a door that will rekindle painful memories, a door that invites us to embark on a journey which will cause all of us to confront the sordid part of our history. That door will only close once the truth is revealed”.
The documentary features all the key role players from the inquest and brings back this historic moment in a raw and visceral style that will engage with audiences.
Someone to Blame – The Ahmed Timol Inquest is directed and produced by awardwinning director Enver Samuel, whose first documentary on Timol, Indians Can’t Fly, won two South African Film and Televisionision Awards (Saftas).
ON THE STAND: Former security branch officer sergeant Joao Jan Rodrigues in court