Pretoria - Startling new evidence emerged during the Ahmed Timol inquest hearing on Thursday when a witness was adamant that Timol had plunged to his death around mid-morning and not late afternoon, as was claimed for the past 46 years.
Muhammed Ali Thokan took the stand in the high court in Pretoria to testify in the second leg of the inquest.
He told Judge Billy Mothle that he was at the petrol station across the road from John Vorster Square on the morning of September 27, 1971.
Thokan said he was busy locking open his petrol tank when he suddenly heard a thump. He could not see anything, but a pedestrian who had walked down the street shouted that someone fell from the top of John Vorster Square.
Thokan said he tried to go and see if he could assist, but as he was halfway across the road, three plain clothed policemen chased him away. He said they were quite aggressive and in fact told him to “f*** off.”
He left before he saw the body.
Thokan was grilled about the time of the day in which he was at the garage and heard the thump. He was adamant that it was mid morning, although he did not know the exact time.
For the past 46 years the police and even the doctor who pronounced Timol dead, put the time of death at shortly before 4pm.
Asked how he was do sure this incident happened in the morning, Thokan said he was on his way to a government department in Pretoria to obtain a trading license and he remembered the occasion well.
Indians were not at the time allowed to trade without a license and the day he had obtained his, was a big occasion.
Asked why he never before now revealed this, Thokan said he had no idea that the time of death was even in dispute.
The court was told in 1972, during the first inquest held, that Timol fell out of the window shortly before 4pm. Witnesses this week also testified that the incident occurred late afternoon.
Anti-apartheid icon Ronnie Kasrils meanwhile also took the stand on Wednesday. He mainly testified about the SACP and ANC’s recruitment programmes during the 1970’s and how Timol was one of the recruits.
He denied claims that political detainees were encouraged by their parties to rather commit suicide, than to confess.
An architect is due to take the stand in the afternoon regarding building plans for John Vorster Square.