48 years after his murder, Ahmed Timol to finally get commemoration

15 October 2019 - 07:00 By Naledi Shange
Ahmed Timol died in detention in 1971. File photo
Ahmed Timol died in detention in 1971. File photo
Image: Sunday Times Extra

Forty-eight years after he was allegedly killed by apartheid police, political activist Ahmed Timol will be commemorated.

In a press statement, the Ahmed Timol Trust said it would be hosting a "historic" exhibition and dialogue in his honour, ahead of the anniversary of his death. The event would be held at Freedom Park in Pretoria on October 22.

“The notorious security police jokingly coined the term 'Indians Can't Fly' when Timol supposedly jumped to his death from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square police station on October 27 1971. Timol was about to become one of the most 'celebrated' official murder victims of apartheid in South Africa as his death reverberated around the country and the world,” the trust said.

“The man who became corpse number 3991/71 became a celebrity, his death an important milestone in the history of the liberation struggle. The apartheid regime believed it had crushed all opposition to the state, but activists like Timol kept up the struggle, ultimately his death served as an inspiration to many other activists to continue to fight for the democracy we enjoy in South Africa today.”

The trust stressed that this year was particularly important as justice would finally take its course over Timol’s death.

“A court found that Timol was murdered in October 1971 and did not commit suicide as the apartheid courts declared at the time. Timol fought for justice and human rights for all. Retired cop Joao Rodrigues, 81, who is accused of the murder of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol, will go on trial in December. The South Gauteng high court said Rodrigues will finally be in the dock for the murder, which happened four decades ago,” the trust said.

Rodrigues' murder trial will come after he failed in his application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

While the original inquest in 1972 concluded that Timol had committed suicide, the reopened inquest in 2017, headed by judge Billy Mothle, found that his death was a result of being pushed.

Rodrigues was indicted for murder and defeating the ends of justice in July 2018.