Third book on Ahmed Timol almost done by Imtiaz Cajee

Imtiaz Cajee hard at work on his third book about his uncle, Ahmed Timol. Picture: Supplied

Written by Zelda Venter; Chief Reporter, Pretoria News

Pretoria – Yesterday marked five years since Imtiaz Cajee took the stand in the reopening of the inquest into the death of his uncle, Ahmed Timol.

Cajee, who has been fighting for justice for apartheid era victims, is hard at work, writing his third book on the subject.

His latest book is expected to be released by the end of this year.

He said: “A secret agreement between apartheid leaders and the ANC-led government that replaced it, effectively closed the door on post- Truth and Reconciliation Commission prosecutions.

“The FW de Klerk Foundation issued a press release in June 2021 referring to this ‘agreement’ and urged the National Prosecuting Authority to halt all investigations.

“The agreement, how it was struck and what it meant, is the focus of my latest book.”

He said he had written an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa last November, seeking answers, but nothing was forthcoming.

Judge Billy Mothle, in his historic re-opened 2017 inquest, ruled Timol did not commit suicide on October 27, 1971, by jumping to his death at the then John Vorster Square Police Station, now Johannesburg Central Police Station.

The judge, sitting at the time at the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, found Timol was murdered while in police detention.

The judge at the time said: “It is through the persistent effort of Mr Imtiaz Cajee that this historic sitting of the reopened inquest occurred. His efforts should be emulated as an example of how citizens have to assert their Constitutional rights.”

Cajee recalled the painful day when he took the stand during the reopening of the inquest.

He also recalled his joy when the court found the apartheid-era police officers who were implicated in Timol’s death more than 50 years ago should face the consequences.

“This was a great victory not only for the Timol family, but for victims and families who lost loved ones during the apartheid era,” Cajee said.

He added re-opened inquests were needed for families to put the record straight.

“They need to know that their loved ones did not commit suicide, but were killed in police detention.”

Almost nine months after the verdict in July 2018, security police officer Joao Rodrigues was charged for the murder of Timol. On his own version of events, Rodrigues placed himself at the crime scene at both inquests.

Despite making 19 court appearances, his matter was removed from the court roll after his passing in September 2021.

“Rodrigues was not held accountable for his actions leading to my Uncle’s death,” Cajee said.

During his application seeking a permanent stay of prosecution, Rodrigues’ counsel referred to a secret amnesty deal that was signed between the National Party and the ANC.

This application was dismissed by three judges of the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg in May 2020 and confirmed by the Supreme Court of Appeal in June 2021.

The Constitutional Court did not hear arguments as Rodrigues had died, and the matter was closed.

In subsequent re-opened inquests, the verdict of suicide was reversed to murder in the Dr Neil Aggett matter. Judgments are pending in the Ernest Dipale and Dr Hoosen Haffejee matters.

The Nokuthula Simelane matter has been on-going for more than two decades; other matters, such as the Caiphus Nyoka matter, continue to be lingering on in court proceedings with little progress.

“It’s about playing for time, waiting for the accused to pass on so that the matters can end. Similar to the Roderigues matter,” Cajee said.

But he will not give up his fight for justice.

Cajee wrote “Timol – A Quest for Justice” in 2005, a biography on his uncle.

He was assisted by his uncle’s comrade, Essop Pahad, minister in the Presidency at the time.

In his second book, published in 2020 during the peak of Covid-19, The Murder of Ahmed Timol, My Search for the Truth, Cajee provided a detailed analysis of the 1972 and 2017 inquests.

He put to rest murmurings that his uncle was reckless during his underground operations leading to his arrest.

Pretoria News