27 July 2017

Statement from the Ahmed Timol Family Trust


Sergeant Rodriguez was the man in the room with Timol before he fell

After receiving medical evidence yesterday of the devastating injuries Ahmed Timol endured prior to his fatal fall while under interrogation by apartheid security police – evidence which appeared to directly contradict the security police version of events – the re-opened Timol inquest will today hear an application by lawyers representing the security policeman who was in the room with Timol immediately before his death.

Timol, a member of the then-banned South African Communist Party, died four days after being arrested at a roadblock in October 1971

Adrian Thompson, a member of former Sergeant Joao Rodriguez’s legal team, informed the court on Monday that he would be bringing an application in respect of his client’s right to receive a full record of the original Timol inquest that took place 46 years ago prior to his appearance. Rodriguez has been subpoenaed to give evidence on Monday.

According to the State, the full document appears to have been “lost” or is “missing”. Part of the record has been reconstructed, but the first 700-odd pages cannot be found and may have been destroyed.

Mr Justice Billy Mothle yesterday asked the legal teams of all the parties to prepare to argue Rodriguez’s application today.

The exact nature of the application has not been revealed, nor the relief sought in the absence of the original papers. Judge Mothle said that after the matter had been argued he may need some time to consider his ruling. 

Rodriguez’s evidence is considered critical as according to the police version of events he was alone with Timol in the 10th floor interrogation room when Timol “committed suicide”.

According to news reports at the time of the original inquest, security police contended Timol had been well treated in detention, and was calmly drinking a cup of coffee in Rodriguez’s company when he suddenly jumped up, darted to the window and jumped out. Rodriguez, who was sitting at a table opposite Timol, couldn’t get round the table fast enough to grab him. The inquest magistrate believed the police…

Forensic pathologists Professor Steve Naidoo and Dr Shakeera Holland blew holes in the police story yesterday. Having reviewed the post-mortem report, including photographs, and other available evidence, they both expressed strong professional opinions that Timol had been so severely assaulted prior to the fall that it would have been physically impossible for him to have drunk coffee, let alone spring up, run to and jumped from the window.

He may have been unconscious before he fell, they said.

Prior to Rodriguez’s application today, the re-opened inquest will hear the evidence of Frank Dutton, lead investigator for the Timol family, and criminologist, Dr Don Foster.

* Ahmed Timol was the 22nd of 73 political detainees to die in detention between 1963 and 1990. Although the families of several of the detainees, including Timol’s mother, Mrs Hawa Timol, approached the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in a quest for justice, to date no police have been held accountable for any of the deaths.

** South African Communist Party’s First Deputy General Secretary Solly Mapaila and Second Deputy General Secretary Chris Matlhako are expected to attend the inquest today to express solidarity with the family and its quest for justice.

For more information please call Benny Gool on 082 5566 556 or Roger Friedman on 079 896 6 899.


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