“Whenever I would go to a bookstore in the past, I would scan the index of all political books written and my eyes would light up when any reference was made to Ahmed Timol. A line or two on my uncle would set me pondering as to when a book was going to be written on him. Now, I don’t have to scan the index, but can stare at the book depicting the life of my uncle. In undertaking this task, I believe I have contributed a little to the reconstruction of our history, and the cause of truth in SA.” Speech at 2005 Book Launch
Imtiaz A Cajee: 2005 Book Launch, Johannesburg Central Police Station
Despite been only five (5) years old at the time, the death of his uncle, Ahmed Timol, had a tremendous impact on his life, Spending time with his maternal grand-mother, he always enquired on the details relating to the death of her beloved son. Visiting his grand-parents during the school holidays, he would diligently read the newspaper cuttings related to the case. Her testimony at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1996 inspired him to constructively do something in Timol’s memory. His initial ambition was to compile a brochure for his personal records. This was the goal that he had set himself. As he proceeded, his brochure had been converted to a book that will ultimately preserve the legacy of Timol. This is how he commenced his journey for the writing of his book published in 2005, TIMOL – QUEST FOR JUSTICE.
The biography had many missing pages and a number of friends have continuously reminded him over the years that it’s incomplete. He could have easily accepted the fact that he had already published a book on his Uncle Ahmed, or taken it to another level which meant digging and pursuing further.
The Murder of Ahmed Timol: My Search for the Truth
Author: Imtiaz A Cajee
Category: Politics / History
Print ISBN: 978-1-4314-2963-9
“Twenty-one years [since the TRC] that have led to this Pretoria courtroom, and to the appearance of this giant man who, 46 years ago, claimed to have been the only eye witness to Uncle Ahmed’s suicide.
“Joao Rodrigues was the state’s star witness at the 1972 inquest. He would have been deemed pretty perfect for the job of covering the murder of Uncle Ahmed. A white South African of Portuguese descent, he worked as an administrative clerk at security police headquarters in Pretoria. After more than 10 years of service he had ascended just one step up the police hierarchy, to the rank of sergeant – proof, if nothing else, of his loyalty to the cause for his role in covering up the murder of Uncle Ahmed.”
Follow Ahmed Timol’s nephew, Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee, on his 20-year journey to find his uncle’s killer and bring him to justice. In 1971, a state inquiry found that Ahmed Timol, held by the security branch of the tenth floor of John Vorster Square, committed suicide by jumping to his death.
Forty-six years later, a new inquiry found that Ahmed Timol was murdered. Only one man remained alive who could tell the truth, a clerk from the police, who was in the room when Timol was pushed. Joao Rodrigues has now been charged with murder and defeating and or obstructing the administration of justice. The book is a wonderful evocation of a time and places; Johannesburg, London, Mecca, Moscow. The last years of Timol’s life, the woman he loved, and his commitment to a non-racial and free South Africa. His last days are detailed here; the roadblock that was set up to catch him and his treatment by the security police.
Not content with finding his uncle’s murderer, Cajee has been on a quest for justice for other murdered victims of apartheid, whose killers never applied to the TRC and who were never charged, despite the information being available. Cajee investigates the possible deal that was done between the National Party and the ANC during the early 90s, and asks how it is possible that so many murderers and torturers were not prosecuted. He is adamant that now is the time to find these people and prosecute them.
Foreword (Extracts from Nkosinathi Biko)
“The relentless quest by Imtiaz Cajee to seek justice for the murder of Ahmed Timol has gifted the nation with the opportunity to give back a voice to the silenced. Perhaps, put more accurately, we stand to raise the voice of the silenced, for although many of them died lonely deaths in silence the forensic evidence that explains their deaths is their definitive word. Until now, we have simply refused to hear it.”
“Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee has relentlessly struggled to see that his dear uncle Ahmed Timol’s personal sacrifices to attain a just and equitable society were not in vain. He continued to tirelessly collect information and stories that helped to shape Timol’s fascinating life story. Imtiaz should be commended for having produced a very enthralling readable publication; a book that not only complements his earlier one but one that brings to light fresh information. He places before the reader a set of information that offers one a clear insight into, among others, the apartheid SB’s dirty tricks. He also provides the readers with his close readings of the second inquest, and his interpretation and understanding should cause readers to rethink what ‘transitional justice’ truly means during this post-apartheid period. – Imam Haron Foundation
“Imtiaz reminds us in this book that his uncle, Ahmed Timol, gave the best of himself for our liberation. Therefore, I believe that we owe Timol (and all other martyrs of our struggle) the best of ourselves too. It is now up to us, (as Imtiaz so ably demonstrates) to realise the society that his uncle died for. One that’s anchored on justice, love and equality. A luta! ” – Lukhanyo Calata, son of Fort Calata of the Cradock Four
“Ahmed Timol was a revolutionary, a freedom fighter and a true South African who loved life and his people. He lived his life in the pursuit of freedom and died a martyr by the hands of tyrants. His life was an inspiration to the members of the Ahmed Timol MK unit. Unlike many recent struggle publications that trade on the life sacrifices of our martyrs for the writers own glorification, this story speaks truth to power. Even if that power happens to be from within the ranks.” – Jameel Chand, Ahmed Timol Unit
Discussion | Book on Ahmed Timol
Timol book gives a voice to the silenced
12 April 2020 – NKOSINATHI BIKO
Interview with Radio Islam: Ebrahim Moosa on 28 June 2020
Johannesburg Review of Books: The Murder of Ahmed Timol
What continuities can be drawn from the murder of Ahmed Timol in apartheid Joburg to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis? Wamuwi Mbao unpacks the debased tradition of police murdering civilians
Book Launch: The Murder of Ahmed Timol My Search for the Truth
Date: Tuesday 30 June 2020
What drove Imtiaz Cajee to search for 20 years to find his uncle’s killer and bring him to justice?
Join journalist Shannon Ebrahim at the Exclusive Books Homebru book launch of Imtiaz’s book The Murder of Ahmed Timol as they delve into his journey to set the record straight.
BOOK REVIEW: Travelling towards justice, and sometimes arriving
Tymon Smith Columnist 12 July 2020 – 00:00 Published in the Sunday Times (12/07/2020)
In 2017 it was announced that, 46 years after his death, an inquest was to be reopened into the circumstances that led to ANC activist Ahmed Timol’s fatal fall from the 10th floor of what was then John Vorster Square, Johannesburg’s notorious police station and detention centre for political prisoners during the darkest days of the apartheid regime.
The reopened inquest was the result of tireless work by Timol’s nephew Imtiaz Cajee, who, ever since hearing his grandmother Hawa’s tearful testimony to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1996, had sworn to seek justice for his uncle and to get to the bottom of what happened to him during his interrogation in Room 1026 on October 27 1971.
Quarantine Book Club: In conversation with Author Imtiaz Cajee
Published Aug 7, 2020 2:18 PM