Pretoria - The second leg of the inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol was on Monday postponed to Wednesday, when a former security police agent is due to take the stand.
It is not known at this stage who the witness will be, as the parties remained mum on his identity. But it appears to be someone who is not willing to appear before the high court in Pretoria, as Judge Billy Mothle was asked to issue a subpoena to force the witness to take the stand.
It is also not know how many more witnesses will testify, but Advocate Torie Pretorius, representing the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) on Monday told the court that he and his team did “checks and balances” on the new potential witnesses who had meanwhile come forward.
“We do not want to muddle the waters, and we decided not to call them.” Pretorius, however said from these interviews new leads were picked up, which the NDPP will follow-up on.
At this stage it is not known exactly when the inquest will conclude.
Advocate Howard Varney, acting for the Timol family, handed several affidavits to the court, which include an Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) report on recent tortures and deaths of detainees at the hands of the police. This indicated that for the 2015/16 financial year there were 216 deaths in police custody, of which 66 were suicides by means of hanging. Figures during this time revealed that 3 466 detainees were assaulted while 144 were tortured.
Judge Mothle remarked that his mandate was limited to facts relating to the death of Timol, but Varney said he simply wanted to highlight that the torturing of detainees were still continuing to this day.
Imtiaz Cajee, the nephew of Timol, meanwhile testified about his path to ascertaining the truth behind his uncle’s death..He said the family had never believed that Timol committed suicide.
He researched his uncle’s death over the years, and in 2003 asked the NPA head at the time, Bulelani Ngcuka, to investigate the Timol case afresh. “I believed that there was sufficient evidence pointing to his murder.
He was, however, informed that the matter was closed.
“I was very disappointed by the approach of the NPA which I believed to be cavalier and uncaring.”
The family subsequently appointed their own investigator and last year they presented NDPP boss Shaun Abrahams with the “new evidence.”
Abrahams subsequently reopened the inquest.
Cajee asked Judge Mothle to, during his final findings in the matter, recommend that a sculpture be erected outside the Johannesburg Central Police Headquarters in Johannesburg - formerly John Vorster Square - as a tribute to all political detainees who had died in custody.during the apartheid era.
He also asked for the south wing of the 10th floor - where detainees were interrogated at the time - to be turned into a museum which recorded the history of security detention and its abuses.
He further called for the “energetic and vigorous” investigation of outstanding apartheid era cases before it is too late. This, Cajee said, may involve the creation of a dedicated team of carefully selected investigators and prosecutors.