The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation welcomes the reopening of the inquest into the death of teacher and anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Timol.
The inquest comes 45 years following Timol’s (30) death in police detention after he fell ten stories from a window at the notorious John Vorster Square Police Station, now called Johannesburg Central. Timol is but one of many struggle activists who lost their lives while in police custody during the apartheid era.
Many of these activists were badly tortured, but police versions of events would simply put their deaths as suicide. We support the Timol family’s bringing forward of new evidence to support the view that their son was killed by apartheid era police officers, and that the Magistrate who ruled that his death was a suicide, had erred. Timol’s nephew, Imtiaz Cajee, and his family, have persevered to keep Timol’s legacy alive and to get the inquest reopened. For this, they must be congratulated.
This is an important step in setting historical records straight. The truth of what had happened to Ahmed Timol. The inquest will also bring forward witnesses who experienced torture at the hands of the apartheid police. Not only will these testimonies be of great historical value, but they will also reopen painful, yet necessary, discussions about the legacy of apartheid that continues to haunt us.
Importantly, the reopening of the case will provide the Timol family with a sense of closure.
This case can be seen as taking forward the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The Commission was meant to be the start of a process that unravelled the extent to which apartheid impacted on individuals, families and communities. While the defendants in the Timol case have passed on and no one can be criminally charged, the reopening of the inquest is an important step towards giving greater depth to the work of the TRC. We hope the Timol inquest will open the way for other apartheid era cases to relooked at. This is because just as truth is a casualty of war, so too is it a pre-requisite for reconciliation.
Neeshan Balton, Executive Director at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation