Ahmed Timol Picture. www.ahmedtimol.co.za

Pretoria - The second leg of the inquest into the death of Ahmed Timol will not end on Friday as planned, as two further “critical” witnesses will be called to the stand next week.

The inquest is standing down to August 10, when an employee who at the time worked at the garage across the road from John Vorster Square, Adam Ahmed, is due to testify.

The high court in Pretoria earlier heard that Ahmed was subpoenaed to come and give evidence, but that he had evaded the summons.

Judge Billy Mothle on Friday said in light of the evidence of businessman Muhammed Ali Thokan this week, that Timol had fallen to his death during the late morning of October 27, 1971, it was vital to obtain the evidence of Ahmed regarding the time of day.

The police have up to now maintained that Timol had fallen to his death during the late afternoon, around 4pm. 

“His (Ahmed’s) evidence has become critical regarding the time of death,” the judge said. He warned  that if Ahmed persisted not to co-operate and come to court, he will “be locked up.” 

“Every effort must be made to secure his attendance here,” the judge said. 

Former Truth and Reconciliation investigator Piers Pigou, who was in charge of the Timol case, will also be called to the stand. New evidence emerged that he had made contact with former security officer Jan Rodrigues at the time of the TRC.

Pigou is living in London at the time, but will be flown to South Africa on State expenses to testify.

Judge Mothle called on anyone who has any information regarding the death of Timol on October 27, 1971,  to come forward. He said it need not only be members of the security branch at the time, but ordinary policemen or members of the public who has new information regarding the circumstances of his death.

“I am certain there may be some people around John Vorster Square at the time who may have seen what had happened,”he said.

The judge said while August 11 is the last day on which the inquest will hear oral evidence, people with information can still come forward up to August 18, when final legal arguments will be heard.

The judge said if it appears that the new evidence is of vital importance to the case, the inquest can be re-opened. 

Timol’s nephew, Imtiaz Cajee was due to take the stand on Friday as the last witness, to conclude the proceedings. The judge, however, said he gave Cajee the honour to be the last person to take the stand. His evidence will now only be heard next Friday.

Dr Saleen Essop, a close friend of Timol who was arrested alongside him in 1971, meanwhile for the second time during the proceedings, took the stand on Friday to identify the security brand officers who interrogated and tortured him at the time.

The judge said this was optional, but he voiced the hope that in identifying these people, it might bring some closure to Essop.

He was so severely tortured at the time that he was taken to hospital in a comatose state the day before Timol had died.

Esskop looked through a host of pictures and immediately identified some of the officers. These included then members of the security branch captains Johan van Niekerk and Johan (Hans) Gloy. 

These were the very same officers who Rodrigues said were in the office with Timol when he arrived there shortly before the anti-apartheid activist had “jumped” to his death. 

According to Rodrigues the two officers were interrogating Timol prior to his arrival. He said they were also among those who had intimidated him into altering his statement by saying that he and Timol had a physical altercation shortly before Timol fell to his death. He, however, refused to give in to them.

Both former officers had since passed away.

Paging through the pictures, Essop also identified apartheid time police commissioner Johann Coetzee who he said took a second statement from him while he was held at Pretoria Central Prison. He, however, did not make any allegations against Coetzee.

zelda.venter@inl.co.za

Pretoria News