APARTHEID INQUEST: Ahmed Timol was a young schoolteacher in Roodepoort, who opposed apartheid. He was arrested at a police roadblock on October 22, 1971, and was dead five days later. Picture. www.ahmedtimol.co.za

Pretoria - Sergeant Joao Rodriguez, the administrative clerk at John Vorster Square who was the only one reportedly present when political activist Ahmed Timol “jumped” out of the window, received a letter of commendation by the highest office in the SAPS for his “faithful” service to the police.

This was the evidence of top criminal investigator Frank Dutton, who was the first head of the police’ Scorpions unit. 

Rodriguez, who was subpoenaed to take the stand during the second leg of the Timol inquest, resigned two days before a magistrate on June 22, 1972 delivered his verdict in the inquest into Timol’s death.

The magistrate at the time exonerated the police of any wrongdoing and found that Timol had indeed committed suicide, as claimed by the then security branch of the police.

Timol’s family, however called for a second inquest 46 years later, as they believed he was severely tortured and killed by the security police members.

When Rodriguez left the SAPS, the then commissioner, General G.L. Joubert, issued him with the letter, which expressed his appreciation for Rodriguez “exemplary behaviour.” 

Dutton told the High Court in Pretoria that this was in spite of Rodriguez earlier being convicted of perjury, for which he was given a suspended sentence and in spite of the fact that he took 301 days sick while in the force.

Dutton said this was extremely strange behaviour on the part of the commissioner, who never issued such letters to any one of the other security members.

It was even stranger in light of the fact that Rodriguez “failed to stop” Timol from “jumping” out of the window.

Even more strange was the fact that Rodriguez was a mere administrative clerk with a rather bland career in the police. 

Dutton concluded that this was done to “commend Rodriguez for his role in the Timol matter.” 

He testified that the steps taken by the police to establish what happened the day Timol died, revealed “a most substandard investigation.” 

According to him the police did everything in their power to cover-up what had really happened.

He said none of the witnesses who should have been questioned, were ever approached and hardly any investigation went into the circumstances surrounding Timol’s death. 

He also said the fact that Timol’s body was immediately removed from where he had landed added to his conclusion that the police tried to cover-up the circumstances around his death. 

“I submit that the version of the police of what happened to Timol must be viewed with considerable suspicion and caution. In my view, the police version is most likely a fabrication,” Dutton said.

An expert on trajectory is meanwhile due to take the stand on Friday. His evidence is aimed at shedding more light on whether Timol jumped out of the window or whether he was pushed.

[email protected]

Pretoria News