By Zelda Venter Jun 5, 2020
Pretoria – The family of murdered anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol is questioning the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) not to prosecute two former security branch policemen for allegedly withholding information regarding the killing of Timol.
Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, Judge Billy Mothle ruled in October 2017 that Timol was murdered and that Neville Els and Seth Sons be investigated for misleading the court. The judge said both should be charged with perjury.
The NPA has now advised that it did not intend to pursue charges against the two, despite the judge’s ruling.
Timol’s nephew Imtiaz Cajee said correspondence received from the director of public prosecutions cited the failure of the presiding officer to place Sons timeously under oath, prescription of assault charges and the denial of Sons and Els of any assaults on Timol. Their advanced age was also mentioned as another reason not to prosecute them.
When he took the stand in August 2017, some of the answers given by Sons on questions posed to him were “I cannot remember” and “I cannot hear”. He also said that he had a “rusty mind”.
Sons, 80, was an investigator stationed at John Vorster Square at the time of Timol’s death on October 27, 1971.
Sons said he had never met Timol.
“I do not know him to this day. I only know him from the newspapers,” he told Judge Mothle.
While several questions had to be repeated to him, Sons was adamant he knew nothing about detainees being tortured or assaulted during interrogations at the notorious John Vorster Square at the time. He said he had read about possible tortures in the newspapers.
Els also told the court during his evidence that according to his knowledge, there were never assaults or torture of detainees at John Vorster Square.
Imtiaz meanwhile described the decision to decline prosecution as “bizarre”.
“Els and Sons were found to have lied under oath, saying that they had no knowledge of the torture of detainees,” Imtiaz said.
He added that five witnesses subsequently came forward after Sons’s testimony and filed affidavits to the effect that they, too, had been assaulted by him.
Imtiaz said he had, since 2017, been following up with the NPA on the investigations into the criminal cases.
“I have been provided with many different reasons as to why it took 30 months to investigate these matters. Initially I was told that it was due to internal processes.” He said he was then told that the matter had been forwarded to the South Gauteng division and later again back to North Gauteng.
“At one stage I was informed by the national director of public prosecutions that the authorities were busy with a centralisation application regarding the incidents that transpired at John Vorster Square.”
Imtiaz said the reasons cited were “spurious and indicative of the lack of political will to do the right thing”.
The NPA had yet to comment late yesterday.
It was concluded during the inquest in 1972 that Timol had committed suicide. This was disputed by the Timol family, who maintained he was pushed out of a window after having been severely tortured.