Expert surprised Apartheid police moved Ahmed Timol's body

25 July 2017 - 15:31 By Bongani Nkosi
Former Minister Pahad in the North Gauteng High court in Pretoria, during the inquest into the death of activist Ahmed Timol who died after falling 10 stories from John Foster Square in 1976.
Former Minister Pahad in the North Gauteng High court in Pretoria, during the inquest into the death of activist Ahmed Timol who died after falling 10 stories from John Foster Square in 1976.
Image: Alaister Russell

A veteran ambulance and surgery expert has told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria it is surprising that police rushed to move anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol's injured body after falling from the 10th floor in John Vorster Square.

Kenneth Boffard‚ an emeritus professor at Wits University‚ told the court it was not standard procedure for the police in 1971 to remove injured people from the incident site.

In fact‚ police would not even move a patient lying injured in the middle of a highway‚ said Boffard.

Police were generally anxious of being held liable should their action cause further damage to a casualty‚ he said.

Boffard delivered expert testimony at an inquest looking into Timol's death in 1971. Apartheid police claimed he committed suicide by jumping from John Vorster Square‚ a then notorious police station in central Johannesburg. Police rushed to wrap him up in two blankets and moved him to the ninth floor‚ where he was certified dead. Boffard said he is surprised police did this‚ instead of waiting for an ambulance.

“In those days there were no first-aid kit on police vehicles‚ to my knowledge.

“And police‚ for the same reason‚ expressed a wish not to move patients from the site of their injury again because they might be held liable over injuries that occurred‚” said Boffard.

“So‚ I'm very surprised that they would have moved this patient…”

“There was availability of ambulance services at that time and they were based in central Johannesburg. So‚ the ambulances should have been available reasonably quickly.”

The apartheid regime ruled Timol's death as suicide‚ but his family has never accepted this.

The family launched a private investigation and uncovered new information that could dispel the official version of events.

The inquest continues.

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