NEWS & ANALYSIS

Family wants Ahmed Timol case reopened

Imtiaz Cajee on the unanswered questions about activist's detention, torture and death

Timol family wants case re-opened as quest for justice continues

The family of Ahmed Timol, who died after being arrested by security police in 1971, want the case of his death re-opened and are appealing to the public who might have further information in order for justice to finally be done.

Timol was the 22nd person to have died in police custody since 1963 and 50 more were to die up to 1990. None of the police interrogators were charged for these deaths.

His nephew, Imtiaz Cajee, said this week that there is a "need to get those policemen responsible for Timol's detention, torture and death to come clean and make full disclosure.  Remember, they failed to apply for amnesty at the TRC. Also, the informers in the community responsible for selling out Timol should be exposed".

Cajee wrote a book, titled Timol - Quest for Justice, in 2005.  The book exposes details that were judged irrelevant, or simply not known. The book does not mean to resolve the case, rather to open the doors to further investigation and to show that some wounds will not be covered with time.

Cajee is now working on a new version of the book using new information that has come to light and is hoping people will come forward to enable the family to finally find closure.

"Questions remain. What were the circumstances that led to Timol's death? Was a police informer in Timol's community responsible for betraying him? This was a strong belief in the community at the time. Was his arrest at a police roadblock staged?

"Why did the policemen responsible for his arrest and detention not testify at the TRC? Why were they not subpoenaed? Why did Timol's former comrades (in government at the time) not pursue this matter more vigorously? These are questions that remain. They need to be answered," Cajee says.

This week marks with the 38th anniversary of the death of the former teacher and trained ANC/SACP underground activist.

Timol was detained at a police roadblock on October 22, 1971. Five days later police claimed that Timol had jumped to his death from the tenth floor of the John Vorster Square Police Station (now named the Johannesburg Central Police Station) during interrogation.

Cajee explains: "The Inquest findings surrounding Timol's death found that he had committed suicide and that no one was responsible for his death. Despite numerous gruesome and horrific bruises on Timol's body that were not disputed during the inquest, the inquest magistrate finding cleared the security police."

Timol's ailing mother, Hawa, made an emotional testimony at the TRC Hearings held in Johannesburg on April 30, 1996.  Hawa appealed to the Commission to find her son's killers and requested that a school to be named after her son. Former President, Nelson Mandela, paid a fitting tribute to Timol when he renamed the Azaadville Secondary School to the Ahmed Timol Secondary School on March 29, 1999.  Sadly, she died before witnessing the renaming of the school in her honour.

A task team setup by the National Prosecution Authority concluded in November 2006 that there was no evidence to prove that Ahmed Timol was definitely murdered and all other crimes prescribed. The matter was therefore closed.

Statement issued by Oryx Multimedia on behalf of Imtiaz Cajee, October 23 2009

Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter