PRETORIA, October 11 – Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timor, who died in 1971, was murdered the North Gauteng High Court inquest found on Thursday.
The re-opened inquest into the death of Timol found that he did not commit suicide. The court instead concluded that Timor died after he was assaulted, tortured and pushed out of the window on the 10th Floor.
Judge Billy Mothle made his ruling that the anti-apartheid was murdered in front of a packed court. He said the evidence presented suggests that Timol was pushed out of the 10th floor or roof of John Vorster Square Police Station, which has since been renamed Johannesburg Central Police Station.
Handing down his ruling, Mothle said: “Timol didn’t meet his death through suicide, he met it through murder …”
The judge said that all members of the security branch were responsible for Timol’s injuries. He said that they tortured him in an attempt to extract information. “They failed to care on Timol.”
In the initial inquest more than four decades ago, the magistrate identified Timol as an Asian. However, Mothle said Timol will now be identified as a South African citizen to restore his dignity.
Mothle said former police officer Neville Els, who claimed he never witnessed any torture on detainees during his stint at John Vorster, should be investigated for misleading the court.
Former security police officer Joao Rodriguez, 78, who claimed he was the last person to see Timol alive and jumping out of the window, will be investigated for perjury.
Mothle said Rodriguez misled both inquests in 1972 and 2017. The first inquest found a long anthat Timor had committed suicide by jumping through the window to his death 10 floor below.
However, the anti-apartheid activist’s family fought a long and spirited battle to have the inquest re-opened because they believed that Timor’s death was not suicide and that a crime most foul had been covered up.
The judge on Thursday said Rodriguez was an accessory to murder and participated in a deliberate cover up of Timol’s death.
Timol was arrested with his friend Dr Salim Essop on 22 October 1971 after a car they were travelling in was stopped by apartheid police. Banned South African Communist Party and African National Congress literature was found in the car.
He died five days later while in police detention.
Judgement is expected in the inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol in the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday.
On August 25, the High Court in Pretoria said that it would take at least a month for the judge overseeing the inquest to rule whether it was suicide or murder. At the time, Judge Billy Mothle said he had a mountain of paperwork to go through.
It was reopened after the family found new evidence that proved that Timol did not commit suicide, but instead died in police custody in 1971.
During the inquest, Johannes Coetzee who represented the policemen implicated in Timol’s death, argued that evidence indicating that Timol had multiple injuries — which he sustained prior his demise — was based on speculation.
Two independent pathologist told the court that Timol had injuries, which were not consistent with a fall from a height. One of the pathologists said Timol had a serve injury on his ankle, which would have made it impossible for him to walk without assistance, and couldn’t have jumped out of the window unless assisted.
Coetzee dismissed these findings as conjecture and said both pathologists’ evidence was not based on facts.
In 1972 – four and half decades ago – Timol’s death was ruled as suicide by Magistrate JL de Villiers. The South African Communist Party (SACP) member was said to have jumped out of the 10th floor of the John Vorster Square Police Station in 1971. The infamous station, where many anti-apartheid activists were tortured, has since been renamed as the Johannesburg Central Police Station.
Timol was arrested with his friend Dr Salim Essop after the car they were travelling in was found with banned African National Congress and SACP literature. Essop testified during the first phase of the inquest, he told the court that he was severely assaulted during his arrest and was near death when he was taken to hospital.
Timol’s family has always rejected the suicide finding insisting instead that the brave activist was murdered by apartheid police. For years family members have fought to have the inquest re-opened. Timol died six days shy of his 30th birthday.