Investigation into Timol's death was a cover-up - Frank Dutton

Letter of commendation Sgt Joao Rodriguez received in 1972 was suspicious, court hears

Investigations into Timol's death 'a cover up of the truth' - private investigator tells court

Pretoria - A private investigator commissioned by anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol's family has told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that previous investigations into Timol's death amounted to a "cover up of the truth".

Frank Dutton was testifying at the second sitting of the Ahmed Timol inquest, which is before Judge Billy Mothle.

He said police regarded Timol's arrest as an important arrest. If they wanted to demonstrate to the community that Timol's death was indeed a suicide and not murder, they would have sought an impartial investigation, which they did not.

"They didn't do that. They appointed [a certain general]. He was not impartial, he believed Timol committed suicide."

He told the court that certain individuals should have been subjected to an administrative inquiry, however "there was no inquiry because this was part of a cover up".

Dutton said during the initial investigation into Timol's death it became apparent that people who were detained were not called as witnesses and that questions should have been asked about whether anyone had heard any screams on that day.

He said at the time, there were a number of black members who worked on the 10th floor of the building but none of them made statements.

He added that investigations should not have been restricted to the 10th floor, but officers should have sought people who might have witnessed the fall.

'No reason to move him'

The apartheid era police officials removed Timol's body within minutes after he fell from the 10th floor of John Voster building (now called Johannesburg Central Police Station), he said.

Dutton said he couldn't understand why Timol was taken away immediately after falling.

"Even if he died [on scene] there was no reason to move him," Dutton said.

His body should have stayed on scene for as long as necessary, he said.

He said police failed to mark the position of where he fell, and they also failed to take photographs of the scene while the body laid there. Timol's death, on October 27, 1971, was ruled a suicide in 1972. Police said Timol fell at 15:50.

However, his family commissioned Dutton to investigate the matter. He subsequently uncovered new evidence which was presented to the National Prosecuting Authority(NPA), and the inquest was reopened.

His loved ones refuse to believe that he had jumped from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square while being interrogated by security police.

Since the inquest began, several witnesses have told the court that they believe Timol was pushed out of the building's window.

(Click here to read about the issue of the letter of commendation)