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Apartheid-era cop to be grilled at Timol inquest

31 July 2017 - 09:30 By Timeslive
John Vorster Square, from which Ahmed Timol plunged to his death in 1971.
John Vorster Square, from which Ahmed Timol plunged to his death in 1971.
Image: ahmedtimol.co.za

A former police officer is due to be cross-examined on Monday at the inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol.

Timol died on October 27 1971 while in police detention.

An inquest held in 1972 found that Timol had committed suicide.

Apartheid-era police said Timol had jumped from a 10th floor window at John Vorster Square‚ now known as Johannesburg Central Police Station.

However‚ Timol’s family pushed for the inquest to be reopened after hiring a private investigator to find answers about the circumstances surrounding his death.

The current hearings are taking place at the High Court in Pretoria before Judge Billy Mothle.

Testimony delivered last week contradicted the findings of the original inquest‚ which dismissed suspicions of murder as “ludicrous”.

“Magistrate De Villiers … used words such as ‘honest and trustworthy’ and ‘reliable’ to describe the security policemen who appeared before him at the inquest‚” the Timol family said in a statement.

“Evidence presented last week to the re-opened inquest by forensic pathologists and a trajectory expert‚ among others‚ told a different story.”

The expert witnesses testified that Timol had been severely injured while in police study. Therefore‚ he would have been incapable of climbing the window ledge and jumping.

The experts said it was more likely that Timol was thrown from the building‚ given the shape of the window‚ the orientation of the body and the trajectory of the fall.   Warrant Officer Neville Els (80) has been subpoenaed to give evidence about security police interrogation techniques.

According to the Timol family‚ Els was “only peripherally involved with Timol’s detention”.

Other witnesses expected to testify this week include Timol’s nephew Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee‚ who led efforts for the investigation to be revived‚ as well as former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils.

Kasrils served in the South African Communist Party leadership alongside Timol.