Statement from the Ahmed Timol Family Trust on the late Ahmed Timol
Timol family appeals to NPA to act on inquest findings
After waiting 46 years for the state to acknowledge that anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol was murdered by police, Timol’s family has appealed to the National Prosecutions Authority to act without further delay against former policemen identified by the North Gauteng High Court as playing a role in the cover-up.
Three months ago, Judge Billy Mothle reversed an apartheid inquest court’s ruling that Timol committed suicide after being detained by police in October 1971, replacing it with a finding of murder. While many of the security policemen directly associated with Timol’s arrest and murder have since passed away, Judge Mothle recommended that three former members face charges. Joao Rodrigues (80) should be charged as an accessory to murder, and Seth Sons and Neville Els (both 82) for perjury, Judge Mothle ruled.
“As a family, we have run a long, painful and exhausting race to see justice done,” said Timol’s nephew, Mr Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee.
“The state agreeing to re-open the inquest last year was a major milestone, and Judge Mothle’s finding of murder was another. Prosecutorial delays would totally undermine these processes.
“We seek not vengeance, but the truth and closure. We have written to the NPA to inform them that we will support plea bargains by the former security policemen on condition that they – finally – tell the truth.
“They are not young men, and time is therefore of the essence. The truth will not only provide closure for the Timol family – and the policemen, themselves – but also materially assist other families seeking to put the record straight about the deaths of loved ones at the hands of apartheid police. Among the families who have approached me for assistance are those of Suliman Babla Saloojee (who died in detention in 1964), Nicodemus Kgoathe and Solomon Modipane (1969), Mathews Mabelane (1977) and Dr Hoosen Haffejee (1977). I have also had discussions with the family of Chief Luthuli who died in mysterious circumstances in 1967,” Cajee said.
“We believe that learning the truth will be more beneficial than seeing elderly men, nearing the end of their lives, enduring humiliating criminal proceedings. Nor can we identify any purpose in their perpetuating the security police cover up. But all of this is theoretical if the NPA does not act.”
Cajee is busy finalising a second edition of his book about his uncle’s life and death. Rights to the first edition – titled, Timol: A Quest for Justice – are in the process of being purchased by the Department of Basic Education for inclusion in this year’s school history curriculum.
A crucial addition to the new edition is a focus on the circumstances leading to Timol’s arrest, details of the events that unfolded from the time of the arrest to the time of the murder, and how the murder was covered up by the security police.
Finally, the “Ahmed Timol Quest for Justice Exhibition” is in the process of being updated to include reference to the historic finding of the re-opened inquest. The revised exhibition will be launched as soon as funding permits.
Ahmed Timol was a school teacher at the Roodepoort Indian High School. He left South Africa in December 1966 to perform the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, and moved on to London where he linked up with his exiled friends, Essop and Aziz Pahad. A decision was made by the Central Committee of the Communist Part that Timol would undergo his political training at the Lenin School in the Soviet Union in 1969, accompanied by Thabo Mbeki and Anne Nicholson. Timol returned to South Africa in 1970, and proceeded to build underground structures for the banned ANC and SACP. He was successful in distributing propaganda to mailing lists across the country for a period of 18 months. On the evening of 22 October 1971, while in the company of medical student, Saleem Essop, Timol was stopped at a police roadblock in Coronationville. Timol and Essop were taken to the Newlands Police Station where they were separated and taken to the John Vorster Square Police Station. Four days and 19 hours later, police alleged that Timol jumped to his death. By then, Essop was in hospital after being tortured to an inch of his life.
This statement was distributed for the Ahmed Timol Family Trust by Oryx Media. For more information about Ahmed Timol please visit https://www.ahmedtimol.co.za.