News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
2 Aug 2017
2:47 pm

Clerk should be charged with Timol’s murder, says family

Ilse de Lange

Timol died after after he fell from a 10th floor window at the security police head office in October 1971.

Jan Rodrigues testifies at the Timol Inquest. Picture: Ilse de Lange

Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol’s family wants the police clerk who last saw him alive charged with perjury and possibly even murder.

This emerged during statements made to former security police clerk Jan Roderigues (78) by advocate Howard Varney, who represents Timol’s family in a renewed inquest into his death while in police detention 46 years ago.

Varney put it to Roderigues that his version that Timol had a fright on hearing that three of his compatriots had been arrested, that he was not injured and just suddenly jumped up and dived through a tenth floor window at John Vorster square was a fabrication thought up by the security police to hide Timol’s assault, torture and murder.

He also put it to Roderigues that if his story had any credibility, he would have been able to catch Timol before he jumped.

He pointed out that Timol barely knew two of the men whose arrested supposedly caused him such fear that he jumped.

Varney said they would argue that Roderigues should be charged with perjury, being an accessory after the fact to murder or alternatively murder.

To this, Rodrigues replied: “I don’t agree. I’m innocent.”

Varney and Judge Billy Mothle both confronted Roderigues with the medical evidence in the original autopsy report as well as the evidence of two forensic pathologists that Timol had numerous injuries not caused by his fall.

Both put it to him that those injuries would have been visible and that Timol would not have been able to walk with a dislocated ankle, let alone run to the window and dive through.

Both questioned why Roderigues, a lowly clerk, would have received a commendation from the national police commissioner for exemplary work shortly before the first inquest found that Timol had committed suicide.

Varney pointed out that the arrests which supposedly caused Timol’s alleged fear only happened a month later and Timol barely knew two of those men.

Roderigues insisted he never received the letter of commendation and only found out about it recently.

Judge Mothle put it to the witness that his evidence did not accord with either the expert evidence before court or the evidence of others who were detained with Timol that they were severely tortured but he replied that he was only telling the whole truth.