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.