News / South Africa

African News Agency
3 minute read
10 Aug 2017
3:02 pm

Second witness tells court Timol fell earlier than cops claimed

African News Agency

The inquest was postponed to August 14.

A second witness has contradicted the testimony given by the last person who saw anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol alive on the 10th floor of John Vorster Square police station in 1971.

Abdullah Adam, who worked as a book clerk at Dollars filling station, told the North Gauteng High Court on Monday that it was in the morning when he was alerted about a body that had fallen from one of the windows of the police station.

The petrol station was located opposite the police station.

The inquest, brought by Timol’s family, aims to overturn a June 1972 ruling by magistrate JL de Villiers that Timol had committed suicide.

Adam was subpoenaed after Judge Billy Mothle said owing to contradicting accounts, which differed on the time Timol “fell” to his death, forensic pathologists Dr. Steve Naidoo and Dr. Shakeera Holland, as well as retired police officer Jaoa Roderigues, would have to be recalled to have their testimonies re-examined.

The 70-year-old Adam said he was certain that the incident occurred in the morning because he was always looking forward to having his tea break.

“I woke up at 4am to get ready for work and there was no transport….I had to be sure that I’m early, and there was no time to eat.”

He said he usually went for his tea break at 10am or 10:15 am.

He explained that he didn’t see anything, but received a call from his boss informing him about a commotion which was taking place outside.

He saw a body lying in the shrubs, but didn’t see the face. He assumed that the body was facing up because he saw a leg and a shoe pointing up.

“I was not alone, there were other spectators…we didn’t get close to the body and were told to go away by security police.”

Adam said he was at the scene for less than three minutes and then went back to his office to have his tea.

Dr Naidoo had said medical evidence had been unable to determine whether the time of death was in the morning or late afternoon.

The pathologist who performed the post-mortem report on Timol, wrote that he died “recently”.

The judge inquired whether it was common practice that a pathologist would write that a person had recently died on a report and what it meant.

“Recently can mean fresh death, anything from 30 minutes to 24 hours,” Naidoo explained.

Naidoo said this was normal practice, especially if the the body hadn’t gone through changes.

Rodrigues, the last person to see Timol alive, told the court that it was in the afternoon when he was left alone in the room with the anti-apartheid activist. The retired policeman, who could face charges of murder, said he saw Timol dive out of the window from the 10th floor.

The judge has called on more people to come forward and enlighten the court on the dispute on the time of day of the death.

A 1972 inquest found that Timol had committed suicide at the infamous John Vorster Square police station, now known as the Johannesburg Central police station.

However, the activist’s family and associates have contested the suicide findings and believe Timol was murdered by agents of the apartheid government by being thrown out of the window.