News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
17 Aug 2017
5:20 pm

Duarte describes apartheid cop as ‘torture master’

Ilse de Lange

She said her grandmother was refused entry into a toilet by the apartheid police and wet herself.

FILE PICTURE: ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte. Picture: Michel Bega

The ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte has hit back at the denials of former apartheid-era security policeman Seth Sons that he never tortured or assaulted anyone, describing him as the “torture master”.

Sons was the last witness to testify in the re-opened inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol, who died on September 27, 1971 after allegedly falling from a tenth story widow at John Vorster square while in the custody of the police.

Timol was a member of the South African Communist Party and was suspected of being behind a campaign to spread the SACP and ANC pamphlets all over South Africa.

A 1972 inquest found that Timol had committed suicide, but his family convinced the NPA to re-open the inquest 46 years later after uncovering evidence pointing to his torture and possible murder.

In his evidence, Sons echoed the evidence of former security police pay clerk Jan Rodrigues – who testified that Timol had dived through the window without saying a word – and former warrant officer Neville Els that they had no knowledge of political detainees being assaulted and tortured at the time.

Sons, 80, was confronted with statements by two former political detainees who said he had forced one of them to stand naked and had slapped the other while questioning them, but relied on a rusty memory and said he could remember no such incidents.

Duarte accused Sons of a “politically expedient memory”.

“He forgot that he made me kneel next to my brother Achmat (Dangor) as his goons from the SB (Security Branch) searched our house for six hours.

“He refused my grandmother on the same day entrance to the toilet and she wet herself. He slapped my mother when she wanted to hug her sister who was handcuffed.

“Dina Chothia was arrested with Ahmed Timol. Sons your office was on the 9th floor of John Vorster Square. You know what took place in that space.

“You stood with folded arms as chair backs were used as racks and as many of us were choked, smacked and kicked. You watched as pee ran down our legs because you made us stand for hours.

“You cannot say you did not torture, you were the torture master,” she said.

Sons, who ran a lucrative taxi business, retired as a lieutenant-colonel from the security police after a career of 30 years and told the court he was the second highest ranking non-white officer in the security branch and in command of a team tasked with investigating, arresting and questioning anti-apartheid activists.

The inquest will resume on Thursday next week.