Pretoria - A retired advocate who was present the day Ahmed Timol fell out of a window at the notorious John Vorster Square in Johannesburg, testified how he saw a body “flying” past the window.
The elderly Ernie Matthis was the first witness to take the stand during the second leg of the reopening of the Timol inquest that started on Monday in the High Court in Pretoria.
Matthis, who practised in the 1970’s, testified before Judge Billy Mothle that he was either on the fourth or the sixth floor of the building preparing for a trial he was busy with, when he suddenly saw a person falling, facing away from the building.
Matthis said he rushed to the window and looked out. The person landed near the street, with his one arm stretch out above his head. The person faced towards the motorway when he had landed.
“I looked up, but I did not see an open window.” Matthis said he, in fact, saw no one when he looked up.
He immediately phoned a friend who was a member of Parliament and told him what he had seen. “He told me this announcement will cause some consternation in Government ranks.”
Matthis said said does not recall any police rushing to the scene, nor did he notice the ambulance arriving while he was there.
Matthis said he had no idea at the time that it was Ahmed Timol who had fallen out of the window. He only read about it in the media at a later stage.
“I had no idea at the time what had happened. The entire incident took about a minute.”
The second witness to take the stand was Paul Erasmus, a former Security branch officer at John Vorster Square.
Erasmus testified about the lies, deception and “dirty tricks” he was involved in during his time, which he said had the seal of approval by many high ranking government officials, including the former minister, police commissioners, state pathologists, lawyers and even some magistrates.
He testified about the “evil” which occurred on the 10th floor of John Vorster Square and about the many tortures which occurred in the “truth room - room 1026”.
Erasmus said he witnessed himself how detainees’ testicles were crushed during interrogation and how torture by means of electric shocks were “at the order of the day” and common purpose at John Vorster Square.
His evidence is proceeding.