The family of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol has pleaded with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to act without any further delay to prosecute policemen involved in his death while in custody nearly 46 years ago
After waiting for so long for justice to prevail, three months ago the High Court in Pretoria reversed an apartheid inquest ruling that Timol had committed suicide in 1971.
Judge Billy Mothle replaced the ruling with a finding of murder. The initial ruling related to Timol plunging to his death from the 10th floor of the infamous John Vorster Square police station (now the Johannesburg Central police station) where torture and interrogation methods were rife at the time. While many of the security police officers directly associated with Timol’s arrest and murder have since died, Mothle recommended former police officer Joao Rodrigues, 80, be charged as an accessory to murder.
He further recommended Seth Sons and Neville Els, both 82, be charged with perjury. “As a family, we have run a long, painful and exhausting race to see justice done,” said Timol’s nephew, Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee. “The state agreeing to reopen the inquest last year was a major milestone, and Judge Mothle’s finding of murder was another .
Prosecutorial delays would totally undermine these processes.” The family asserted that it was not seeking vengeance but truth and closure. “We have written to the NPA to inform them that we will support plea bargains by the former security police officers on condition they finally tell the truth. They are not young men, and time is therefore of the essence.”
Cajee further believed that learning the truth would be beneficial for the elderly men who are “nearing the end of their lives”. He is busy with a second edition of his book about his uncle’s life and death. Rights to the first edition – Timol: A Quest for Justice – are in the process of being purchased by the department of basic education for inclusion in this year’s school history curriculum.
“A crucial addition to the new edition of the book is a focus on the circumstances leading to Timol’s arrest, events that unfolded from the time of the arrest to the time of the murder, and how the murder was covered up by the security police.”