Picture: www.ahmedtimol.co.za

Pretoria - The time of death of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol remains a mystery, with the security police maintaining it was late afternoon, while two witnesses were adamant that it was mid morning.

A pathologist who was recalled to the witness stand to unravel the mystery, was unable to say whether it was morning or afternoon.

Dr Steve Naidoo said it was equally possible that Timol could have plunged to his death mid morning or mid afternoon.

Abdulla Adam, who were working at the petrol station across the road from John Vorster Square on September 27, 1971, when Timol fell, was adamant that it happened around 10am that morning.

“I am certain of the time, because 10am was tea time. Tea time was very important to me,” he told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria. 

Adam testified on Thursday during the second leg of the Timol inquest. He was called to the stand to especially shed more light on the time Timol had plunged to his death.

A previous witness who was filling his car with petrol at the time, also placed the time of the fall during mid morning. He was adamant about the time.

Adam testified that he was called by his boss at the time, to go on check on what had happened, as there was a commotion.

Adam said he and others who went to the scene were chased away by the security police, but he did get a glimpse of the body lying in the shrubs. The body was turned upwards and the body was about 2m away from the then feared secret police headquarters. 

Adam said he could not see whether the person was dead or alive.

Dr Naidoo meanwhile said the report issued by the doctor who had declared Timol dead was inadequate. 

The doctor saw the body late in the afternoon on the day of the fall and he was not clear on the time of death. He simply noted that the man had “recently died.” 

This could have meant that the time of death was between half an hour to 24 hours of the actual death, as rigor mortis had not yet occurred, Naidoo said.

“It is thus impossible to determine the precise time of death,” he told Judge Billy Mothle.

Dr Torie Pretorius, acting for the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) meanwhile said that his office was approached by several potential witnesses who claimed that they could shed more light on Timol’s death.

This was after Judge Mothe last week called on the public or anyone who were present when Timol fell, to come forward.
The judge on Thursday said his registrar also received various calls by people who claimed they can assist.

Pistorius said his team will over the next few days work through the potential evidence to see who could assist and should be called to testify. This included the mystery witness who was expected to take the stand on Thursday.

The inquest was supposed to close for oral arguments on Friday, but the session was extended to next week. More witnesses were expected to take the stand from Monday to Wednesday, with closing arguments due to take place at the end of next week.

National Drector of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams at the inquest into activist Ahmed Timol's death. Video: Zelda Venter

NDPP head Shaun Abrahams meanwhile made a short appearance at the inquest. He arrived about 15 minutes before the proceedings had concluded for the day and took a seat in the public gallery.

A smiling Abrahams told Independent Media that he was not going to give comment on the case.

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Pretoria News