4 August 2017

Statement from the Ahmed Timol Family Trust


Judge recalls forensic pathologists and security cop

 Judge Billy Mothle has asked to re-examine forensic pathologists Professor Steve Naidoo and Dr Shakeera Holland to test new evidence that political detainee Ahmed Timol died on the morning of 27 October 1971, and not in the afternoon as police have claimed.

Judge Mothle also indicated on Friday that it may be necessary to recall former security police sergeant Joao “Jan” Rodrigues, who faced two-and-a-half days of questioning by the re-opened inquest earlier this week.

According to the police version of events, Timol was neither tortured nor assaulted while in their care, and dived out the window of the 10th floor as per a communist party edict that activists commit suicide to avoid revealing information. Rodrigues was said to be the only person in the room with Timol and was unable to prevent him diving through the window at 3.48pm. The apartheid magistrate who presided over the inquest duly ruled the death a suicide.

A series of expert witnesses, former political detainees and South African Communist Party leaders have presented a radically different version of events to the re-opened inquest.

There was no instruction to communists to commit suicide, torture and assault were routinely meted out to political detainees by police, Timol was so severely assaulted that he would not have been able to dart across the room and dive out of the window, he couldn’t have dived because his body would have landed in a different position to which it did – and it didn’t happen in the afternoon.

The inquest was due to hear its last witness today before adjourning for lawyers to prepare final arguments. Judge Mothle had requested that Timol’s nephew, Imtiaz Cajee, who has led the family’s struggle for truth and justice over the past 20 years, be given the honour of having the last word.

But Judge Mothle surprised the court when it resumed on Friday, stating that he’d like to ask the forensic pathologists a few more questions relating to evidence from two witnesses – retired state advocate Ernie Matthis and businessman Muhammed Ali Thokan – to the effect that Timol fell from the building in the morning.

The court will thus reconvene next Thursday (10 August) for the re-examination of the pathologists – and possibly the policeman – followed by Cajee.

After these witnesses have been heard, the court will adjourn for a week for the preparation of final arguments. Judge Mothle must decide if any entity or individual can be held accountable for Timol’s death, and whether to recommend prosecution.

The Timol family has been assisted by the South African non–profit, Foundation on Human Rights (FHR); Advocate Howard Varney, a senior program adviser with The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICT), law firm Webber Wentzel, the Legal Resource Centre (LRC), and investigator Frank Dutton, among others.

Ahmed Timol was the 22nd of 73 political detainees to die while in the hands of the police between 1963 and 1990. The deaths were routinely attributed to suicides and accidents, and nobody has ever been prosecuted.


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


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