Timol's father died a 'broken man' - Inquest hears

Nephew tells the court he often accompanied his grandfather to Timol's grave

Timol's father died a 'broken man' - Inquest hears

14 August 2017

Johannesburg - Ahmed Timol's father died a broken man 10 years after the death of his son in police custody, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

"My grandfather died in 1981 and he died a broken man after the loss of his son," Imtiaz Cajee said during the second sitting of the inquest into the anti-apartheid activist's death.

Cajee was Ahmed Timol's nephew. He told the court he spent time with his grandfather and would often accompany him to Timol's grave in Roodepoort.

He said Timol's death and the disappearance of his other uncle, Mohamed Timol, had affected his studies.

Cajee said when his grandmother testified at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1996, he could not hold back his tears.

"On that particular day, my lord, I made a silent vow to myself, that from this day onward, I am no longer just going to speak about Uncle Ahmed, I am going to do something constructive in memory of my beloved uncle," he said.

Suicide claim

He began doing research, which included interviewing people who had been detained with Timol and speaking to the relatives of people who had died in detention. Cajee said his family never believed the police's claim that Timol committed suicide.

Cajee thanked the court for giving the family an opportunity to present new evidence.

Timol's death, on October 27, 1971, was ruled a suicide after an inquest in 1972. Police claimed he jumped from the 10th floor of the John Vorster Square police station, now called the Johannesburg Central Police Station.

His family maintained that security branch officers threw him out of the window, and commissioned a private investigation which uncovered new evidence. This was presented to the National Prosecuting Authority and the inquest was reopened.

Last Thursday August 10, subpoenaed witness Abdullah Adam told the court that in 1971 he had been working at the Busy Dollars petrol station, which was opposite the police station.

He said his boss told him someone had fallen from the building.

When he went across the road to look, saw the body lying in a shrub, with only the shoes protruding. While he could not remember the day, he said he had been looking forward to his tea break because he had not had breakfast.

Former security branch police sergeant, Joao Jan Roderigues previously testified that Timol died around 16:00.

Dr Steve Naidoo, a forensic pathologist who was recalled to testify, said it could not be determined if the death occurred earlier or later that day.

Naidoo said the doctor who declared Timol dead had simply noted after 16:00, that he "died recently". "Recently" could mean anything between 30 minutes to 24 hours.

The inquest continues.