Timol's kidney severed and left floating in his body: forensic pathologist
The inquest into activist Ahmed Timol’s death on Wednesday heard how his body was riddled with external and internal injuries consistent with severe torture‚ with blood vessels to his kidney severed and the kidney left floating in his body.
Forensic pathologist Dr Shakeera Holland‚ who studied the original post-mortem results as well as photographs of Timol’s body‚ said “the kidney was left free floating without any vascular attachments”.
She further testified in the inquest currently underway in the Pretoria high court that there was extensive damage to the brain caused by the depressed skull fracture that could have been inflicted with a blunt object.
“Based on my years of experience as a forensic pathologist‚ bruises from a fall from a height tend to be more irregular and poorly defined whereas most of the bruises that can be seen in the photographs are well defined‚ patterned bruises and therefore not consistent with a fall from a height‚” she said.
Holland said the depressed skull fracture with loose bone fragments was not consistent with the pattern of injuries which would likely be seen in a fall from a height and must be explained.
She maintained that the multiple injuries that were present on Timol’s body could also not be ascribed to a fall from a height which indicated that Timol “sustained physical assault whilst in police custody prior to his death”.
Holland said her findings called into question the findings of the original inquest process that the manner of death was suicide‚ saying this finding must be challenged.
She said the fractured skull would have rendered Timol unconscious‚ which would make it impossible for him to move around and jump out of a window. Holland said her assessment was that Timol was barely alive when he fell.
Timol died on October 27 1971 while in police custody at John Vorster Square. An inquest held in 1972 found that he had committed suicide by jumping from the 10-storey building. However‚ Timol’s family have refused to believe that he killed himself and asked for the inquest to be reopened because new information had come to light.