Pretoria - Former police administrative officer Jan Rodriques told the high court in Pretoria that Ahmed Timol “dived” through the window of the 10th floor of the John Vorster Square building on October 27, 1971, and he did everything in his power to stop him, but he was too late.
Rodrigues was summonsed to testify before the court in the second leg of the inquest into the anti-apartheid activists death.
The police maintained Timol had committed suicide. An inquest held in 1972 agreed with this and found that nobody could be held responsible for his death. His family, however, never believed this and called for another probe into his death.
The Timol family called on Rodrigues to come and tell the truth so that they and the country as a whole, could know what happened that day. Forensic pathologists last week testified that Timol had suffered a severe skull fracture before his death as well as a fractured ankle, which would have made it impossible for him to walk, let alone jump out of the raised window.
But the 78-year-old Rodrigues stuck to his guns on Monday and insisted that Timol had jumped.
Rodrigues said he worked for the police in an office in Pretoria at the time and went to John Vorster Square that day to take salary slips and cheques to Timol’s interrogators - Captains Hans Gloy and Faan van Niekerk.
He said it was his first ever visit to John Vorster Square and he was taken to room 1026, where the pair were with Timol. Someone stood with a tray of coffee in the passage near the door and asked him to deliver the three cups, which he did.
Rodrigues said Timol was not being interrogated when he walked in and everything was calm. He claimed the officers and Timol drank their coffee, when an unknown officer walked in.
“The man said Timol’s three accomplices had been arrested. He then left. I saw Timol was extremely shocked. His eyes were big and he was shaking his head.”
Rodrigues said the two officers excused themselves and asked him to guard Timol, although he was unarmed.
He and Timol did not speak to each other, but Timol at a stage asked whether he could go to the toilet. Thinking that this was a reasonable request, he agreed and got up from his chair.
Rodrigues said he saw a movement from the side of his eye and noticed that Timol was opening the window.
“The next moment I saw him diving out of the window.”
Rodrigues said he left the police force shortly before the verdict came out following the 1972 inquest, as he had had enough. He claimed that he was told to lie in his statement to the inquest magistrate and that a certain General Buys told him to say that there had been a struggle between him and Timol.
“I was not prepared to do this as I knew in future I would be asked questions about it….I realised I no longer had a future in the police.”
Judge Billy Mothle asked Rodriques whether he told this to the magistrate who had handled the inquest at the time. Rodrigues said he could not recall. The judge asked him to read the judgement following that inquest before he came back to court on Tuesday.
His evidence is proceeding on Tuesday.