The family of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol, who died in police custody 46 years ago, has added their voice to pleas for people with knowledge of the true events surrounding his death to urgently come forward.
Judge Billy Mothle, who presides in the reopened inquest into Timol’s death, and Dr Salim Essop, who was arrested with Timol and tortured into a coma by members of the security police, last week both appealed to anyone with relevant information to contact Timol’s family or the National Prosecuting Authority.
The inquest will resume on Thursday this week with two forensic pathologists and former security police clerk Jan Roderigues being recalled to the stand to testify about the time of Timol’s death.
Timol died after falling out of a window on the tenth floor of John Vorster square in Johannesburg. Police statements all indicated he had died in the afternoon, but a businessman who was putting in petrol across the road from the building that day was adamant that the incident had taken place in the morning.
Timol’s nephew Imtiaz Cajee said the inquest’s hearing this week presented a final window of opportunity for the truth to emerge.
“From the number of messages we’ve been receiving it is clear that South Africans have really taken our quest for justice for Uncle Ahmed to heart.
“Last week a former security policeman made contact to say he had been watching the inquest and believed the police witnesses were lying. The lawyers are speaking to him.
“But covering up his murder did not just involve the handful of security police directly involved in his torture and assault. It required a much broader conspiracy of silence that has endured since before his capture at a roadblock in October 1971 until today.
“The conspiracy included police, members of the state’s medical and pathology services, and the justice department, among others. It could only succeed in a society profoundly fearful of the police, especially its Security Branch, as ours was under apartheid.
“In 1972, when the original inquest ruled my uncle’s death a suicide, it wasn’t easy for witnesses to come forward as they risked being intimidated and harassed.
“They shouldn’t have had those same fears in 2017,” Cajee said.
Cajee can also be e-mailed at email@example.com