Seek­ing jus­tice for Ahmed Ti­mol

● Doc­u­men­tary delves into po­lit­i­cally ac­tive teacher’s 1971 death

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Television -

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

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