Security police a law unto themselves – Bizos
APARTHEID’S security police were a law unto themselves, who got magistrates, prosecutors and senior prosecutors to help the security police conceal their evil deeds; going as far as fabricating evidence.
This is the view of human rights lawyer George Bizos, who revealed what he felt was a deliberate cover-up by the apartheid state in hiding the truth surrounding activist Ahmed Timol’s death in October 1971. The renowned lawyer represented the Timol family, alongside legendary human rights lawyer, Issy Maisels, in the 1972 inquest.
Bizos was testifying yesterday at the reopened inquest into Timol’s death, held at the high court in Joburg. The case was brought by his family in a bid to overturn a ruling by magistrate JL de Villiers, that he had committed suicide by jumping from the 10th floor of the infamous John Vorster Square police station.
A bone of contention for Bizos was an “invented” document by police – titled Inkululeko – Freedom, February 1972, no. 2 – which he said they received from the police’s lawyer, Fanie de Villiers. The document appeared to have been written by the SACP and implored its comrades to “rather commit suicide than betray the organisation”.
Bizos told the court yesterday that this document was not part of the formal exhibit list. “The magistrate readily used it to base his finding that there was a political motive of communist ideology behind Timol’s supposed suicide…
“I have no doubt that this document was fabricated by the police for the consumption of the court,” Bizos said in his court affidavit.
De Villiers said in his findings that Timol was involved in distributing this document.
But Bizos was derisive of these findings, asserting: “Unless this date (February 1972) is incorrect, then it appears that this document was only published months after Timol’s death, which means he had no sight of it let alone being involved in its distribution.
“This is an indication of the carelessness, or worse, of the magistrate.”
The legal representative for the Timol family, advocate Howard Varney, told the court that the non-inclusion of this document meant Bizos and Maisels were deprived of an opportunity to ask related questions.
Varney then asked Bizos to comment on his view, to which Bizos responded: “Well, I can only say that, unfortunately, the security police were a law unto themselves.
“And they actually decided which magistrate would take which case. Unfortunately, there were security policemen, there were prosecutors, there were senior prosecutors that did the bidding of the security police – and there was nothing we could do about it.”
The inquest continues today, with Timol’s younger brother, Mohammed, expected to testify.