Tributes to Ahmed Timol


Various tributes dedicated to Ahmed Timol and Timol – Quest for Justice


If you knew someone like Ahmed, a real human being, you felt such warmth that you can never forget him as long as you live.  One of Ahmed’s tremendous and remarkable skills was his combination of seriousness with humour. This is unparalleled in most human beings.  An exceptional and remarkable trait of Ahmed was that if you had developed a friendship with him, it was for life. Ahmed would be absolutely loyal and would do practically anything for you


I will remember him for his compassion and the values that he believed in. His compassion and empathy for other people, the easy and quick compassion that he had for them. His tenderness and his sensitivity. His lack of dogmatism. You have to admire that depth of commitment and intensity of feeling and if he could bring it to bear as he did in the struggle on South Africa he could obviously bring that to bear in relationships as well. Ahmed had a depth of feeling for people and intensity about him and that’s an unforgettable quality. His depth of commitment.


The freedom that we have today did not just come about. Ahmed had showed that an ordinary man could accomplish heroic measures to foster his beliefs. He was always kind and a nice young man. The apartheid government made Ahmed a hero for the people. They created him. Ahmed gave his life for his people.


 He was allegedly arrested for the possession of pamphlets and he was killed in the pursuit of free speech, for his role as an underground educator – the fact that education had to proceed in an underground manner itself illustrates the hideousness of those times.


The school incident book recorded on 16/11/1971: “Informed Mr DNJ van Vuuren, in writing, that when I arrived at school on Thursday, 28-10-71, in three different places, ‘Our Hero is Dead’ had been painted. I had the cleaners remove the paint work.”

RAND DAILY MAIL (29 October 1971).


After Ahmed’s death, Nassim Pahad told the Rand Daily Mail: “Ahmed was the man who in any discussion of politics would say: ‘Politics is for politicians. It is our job to be humane in our dealings with others. ’You see, it’s strange that a man who was forever repeating these sentiments should die in police custody.”


During the 1970s and 1980s, in Fordsburg, Fietas, Pageview, Lenasia, Laudium and all the Indian ghettos and settlements in greater Johannesburg, Ahmed Timol was a legend. He was regarded as a fearless fighter who was killed by the apartheid government and whose interrogation and torture, resulting in his death, was covered up.

“Waiting for a legal instrument that authorises its declassification, such as the information relating to the murder of Ahmed Timol, that legal instrument is the Bill before this house.” For 17 years this government has not declassified the information? We must demand now that this information, which is in the public interest, must be declassified immediately. But the secrecy Bill is not the only tool to do that, nor is it fair or accurate to suggest that opposing the secrecy bill because of its serious shortcomings will delay or deny the Timol family the truth.

Extract from speech made by Minister Nqakula,29 January 2005at the Johannesburg Central Police Station Launch:

” … But, today’s function, at the former John Vorster Square, on the notorious 10th floor and the thoroughly infamous Interrogation Room, must be the most significant historical moment of policing in South Africa… “

Extract from speech made by Minister Kasrils,30 January 2005at the Azaadville Book Launch:

“… Imtiaz has through his book brought Ahmed back to life, because Imtiaz Ahmed Timol through the book is with us and it is Ahmed who talks to us when we read the book, Imtiaz, you have brought him to life; you have given him voice  … “

Extract from Book Review by Maureen Isaacson, Sunday Independent,February 6, 2005:

“Imtiaz Cajee, Timol’s nephew, exposes details that were judged irrelevant, or simply not known. He does not mean to resolve the case, rather to open the doors to further investigation and to show that some wounds will not be covered with time”

Extract from Newspaper Article by Nalini Naidoo,NatalWitness,March 7, 2005:

“Cajee describes the book as a reclaiming of his uncle’s life. But the story goes much deeper, as it also shows the family’s desperate search for answers to the inconsistencies surrounding Timol’s death, their need to understand what happened in the last hours of his life and to seek closure on a traumatic and painful experience”

 Extract from E-TV 3rd Degree Interview with George Bizos:

“They lied their way during the apartheid regime.  Some of them told the truth before the TRC – others told lies and many were refused amnesty.  Many did not even bother to go to the TRC, as in the case of Timol and they believe that by repeating the lies that had been demonstrated to be lies, and their denials will be eventually accepted. I think there is enough evidence and enough facts that were brought to the fore that will put those lies to bed once and all”