16 August 2017

Statement from the Ahmed Timol Family Trust


Final witness list to be decided before court convenes

Whether or not additional witnesses will be called to give evidence to the re-opened inquest into the death in detention of Ahmed Timol will be determined by the judge and legal teams just prior to the court re-convening at 10H00 in Pretoria today.

The cross-examination of witnesses was expected to have concluded on Monday, but it emerged that an unidentified former security policeman may be subpoenaed to testify today.

Key security police witness Joao “Jan” Rodrigues, who was due to be re-examined on Monday, was asked to return today.

According to Rodrigues’ evidence to the original inquest in 1972, repeated last month, Timol committed suicide in October 1971 by diving through a window on the 10th floor of John Vorster Square Police Station. On Rodrigues’ version, the young anti-apartheid activist showed no signs of having been tortured or assaulted under interrogation. He died four days after being arrested at a roadblock; for 46 years the Timol family has maintained he was murdered.

Rodrigues’ version has been starkly contradicted in Judge Mothle’s court by a succession of expert witnesses who have testified inter alia that Timol was so badly assaulted prior to falling from the building that he would have been unable to dive through the window and, if he had dived, it would not have been possible for his body to land where it did.

Rodrigues’ evidence that Timol fell around 4pm has also been contradicted by three eye-witnesses who claim that it occurred in the morning.

Timol was the 22nd political detainee of 73 to die in the custody of the notorious apartheid security police between 1963 and 1971.

The Timol family wants the 1972 suicide finding of inquest magistrate JJL De Villiers expunged from the history books.

In his evidence to the inquest on Monday, Timol’s nephew Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee – who has led the family mission for the truth over the past 20 years – asked Judge Mothle to consider making four recommendations to the government in his judgement.

  • The erection of a sculpture outside Johannesburg Central Police Station paying tribute to all political detainees who died in detention during the apartheid era;
  • The conversion of the south wing of the 10th floor of the police station (formerly John Vorster Square) into a memorial, museum or educational center open to the public;
  • The energetic investigation of all outstanding apartheid era cases; and
  • Making all files pertaining to political detainees of the apartheid era accessible to the families of victims who still seek answers.

The State agreed to re-open the Timol Inquest after investigation by the family revealed new evidence. The Timol family is 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 super-sleuth, Frank Dutton, among others.


For more information please call Benny Gool on 082 5566 556 or Roger Friedman on 079 8966 899.


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