Court rules Timol was pushed to his death

Elias Hubbard
October 12, 2017

The original 1972 inquest had found that the anti-apartheid activist had committed suicide and died in 1971 by jumping from the 10th floor of the John Vorster Square police building, but his family refused to accept that story.

He said the reopened inquest, which was the first of its kind in South Africa, also highlighted the deaths of other political detainees who died in police custody and whose families were still searching for the truth.

The judge sharply criticised the magistrates, medical doctors, members of the legal profession and police who were complicit in allowing the security policemen responsible for Timol's death to get away with their evil deeds.

"His efforts should be elevated as an example of how citizens should assert their constitutional rights", said Mothle.

"This is the context in which the conspectus of the evidence should be understood".

Officers at the time said he took his own life - a verdict endorsed by an inquest.

But his family fought the ruling and have campaigned hard to secure the review that finally began in June.

During the review, a Pretoria court has heard from pathologists, former security officers and victims of apartheid brutality. George Bizos was also in attendance together with Timol family members and others who had been detained with him.

A remorseful former officer who served in the feared security branch which held Timol spoke out about his squad's brutal techniques.

The court called for an officer involved in covering up the circumstances of the 1971 death to be investigated as an accessory to murder.

Rodrigues was challenged by forensic questioning over apparent holes in his testimony. But the judge ruled on Thursday that this claim was completely contradicted by all the evidence.

"This entire story of a suicide is a fabrication and it's always hard to maintain consistency in a fabrication", the Timol family's lawyer said during a hearing in August.

South Africa held a much-praised Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the end of apartheid, but the authorities ignored its call for further criminal investigation into hundreds of unsolved cases after the commission finished its work. According to Holland, an expert attached to Wits University, Ahmed Timol's corpse contained several injuries not incurred during his fatal fall from the 10th floor window of John Vorster Square but, were incurred days before he fell.

Mr. Timol was just one of 73 people who died in apartheid detention from the 1960s to the 1980s.

The judgement vindicates the Timol family who for decades have insisted the initial inquest, over 40 years ago, was cover-up and riddled with lies.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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