Former security policemen to be subpoenaed to Timol inquest

Of about 23 individuals that were allegedly involved in the matter, only three still alive

Apartheid police to be subpoenaed to Timol inquest

29 June 2017

Johannesburg - Judge Billy Mothle has ordered that all the surviving policemen who were involved in the arrest and detention of the struggle veteran Salim Essop and anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Timol, be subpoenaed to testify in court.

Mothle on Thursday said the National Prosecuting Authority must issue subpoenas urgently to the policemen so that they can assist with information as to what really led to Timol's death.

Mothle wants the police officers to appear in the next sitting of the inquest, expected to take place between July 24 and August 4.

"I will authorise the issue of subpoenas to all the police who were involved in the arrest and interrogation and detention of Mr Essop and Mr Timol. If they are still alive, I am authorising, through the NPA, to issue subpoenas."

The court heard on Monday that of about 23 security police that were allegedly involved in the matter, only three were still alive.

Mothle on Thursday said the police commissioner should assist the court.

In detention

Timol's death was ruled a suicide in 1972. However, a private investigation launched by Timol's family into his death uncovered new evidence which it presented to the NPA, asking for the inquest to be reopened.

On the fourth day of the first sitting of the inquest at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, the court called Professor Kantilal Naik who said he knew Timol from Roodepoort, where they both grew up.

Naik taught at the Roodepoort Indian High School with Timol.

He was arrested on Saturday, October 23, 1971, because of his association with Timol.

The police went to his house and told him that because he was Timol's friend, he must have been involved in political activity.

Speaking about his time in detention, he said: "The security police were really terrible, they said: 'Jou bliksem se coolie, ons sal jou wys [You bloody coolie, we will show you]. You are lying.'"

This is what the police said to him after he wrote a statement, with which they were not happy.

"I told them that I am a follower of Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy and I was not violent. They were not happy."


The police were dissatisfied with his statement and then they allegedly began to torture him.

"Using a helicopter method, I was swung like a see-saw on a broomstick. They did this until my hands were immobilised. I could not do basic things."

Naik could not clean and wash himself, the court heard.

He said one police officer who went by the surname, Van Tonder, apologised to him saying: "Ek is baaie jammer dat hulle het dit gedoen het. [I'm very sorry that they did that."

Subsequent to the torture, he had to undergo physiotherapy treatment for months. He said the torture ended after he was visited by a magistrate, whose name he could not remember.

Timol's younger brother, Mohammad, who was in police detention and not allowed to attend his brother's funeral, is expected to testify on Thursday afternoon.

The first sitting of the inquest is expected to end on Friday, June 30, and then resume between July 24 and August 4, and August 10 and 11.