The family of slain anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol on Thursday, welcomed the North Gauteng High Court ruling that his death was not suicide but murder by the apartheid police.
“Those interrogators, those feared members of the security branch during that nightmare of apartheid, are no longer here so that they account for their actions,” Timol’s brother Muhammad said addressing a media briefing after the judgment was handed down by Judge Billy Mothle.
Mothle said all security police officers who interrogated Timol during his arrest, were responsible for his demise.
Timol’s family urged the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to re-open all cases relating to the killing of political activists.
“The fact that an inquest took place in 1972, ironically provided the spine needed to re-open this inquest… Without the medical records, it would have been very difficult to persuade the NPA to re-open this matter. This will present challenges for families whose medical records don’t exits,” Timol’s nephew, Imtiaz Cajee, said.
“We would like to view the re-opened Timol inquest as the beginning and not the end.”
In his ruling, Mothle said the inquest also revealed that there were many more families who are seeking closure on the unanswered questions concerning the death of their relatives in detention.
Nkosinathi Biko, the son of Steve Biko who also died while in police detention, expressed his gratitude concerning the judgement.
“The explanations which were given about the deaths of young and healthy men and women who died in custody have now been nullified,” Biko said.
“Thanks to advocate Bizos for what you represent to this nation, you have been more consistent on this matter of giving back to those that are departed.”
Mothle said that all members of the security branch were responsible for Timol’s injuries.
He said that the former police officer Neville Els, who claimed he never witnessed any torture of detainees during his time at John Vorster Square police station, should be investigated for misleading the court.
Former security police officer Joao Rodriguez, 78, who claimed he was the last person to see Timol alive and jumping out of the window, will be investigated for perjury.
Mothle said he misled the 1972 and 2017 inquest.
He also said Rodriguez is also an accessory to murder and participated in a deliberate cover-up of Timol’s death.
Timol was arrested with his friend Dr Salim Essop in October 22, 1971 after a car they were travelling in was stopped by apartheid police. Banned South African Communist Party and African National Congress literature was found in the car.
He died five days later while in police detention.
His death was ruled as suicide by jumping out of the tenth floor of the infamous John Vorster Square, currently known as the Johannesburg Central police station.