Don Foster and George Bizos in court. Picture: Zelda Venter

Pretoria - The investigation done into the death of political activist Ahmed Timol 46 years ago was substandard and a cover-up to hide what actually happened that day when he plunged to his death from a window at John Vorster Square in Johannesburg.

This is according to ace criminal investigator Frank Dutton, the previous head of the police’s then elite Scorpions unit. 

Dutton on Thursday took the stand in the high court in Pretoria to testify during the second leg of the inquest into the death of Timol.

He said the police did not meet even the basic requirements when they investigated Timol’s death. 

According to Dutton at least two investigations should have been triggered by his death; an inquest investigation to establish the cause of his death and whether any one was responsible for his death and an administrative inquiry to determine whether a police member had contravened the regulations by allowing Timol to exit the building while in police detention.

The inquiry should have resulted in a formal decision by police management as to whether disciplinary steps should be instituted against members of the force.

This was never done, while the investigation done to gather evidence presented to the inquest, was shoddy and clearly done to cover up what really happened.

Dutton said the entire John Vorster Square should have been swept for evidence and every single person working there should have been questioned. 

An independent and impartial investigator should have been appointed to investigate his death, but the police in stead selected the head of the detective branch in Pretoria at the time to lead the investigation.

The investigation had hardly started when this investigator already told the media that Timol in his view had committed suicide. 

“Clearly he was not impartial, nor did he have an open mind as to the cause of death,” Dutton said.

He also questioned as to why none of the black members working at the time at John Vorster Square notorious 10th floor, were ever asked to give statements.

Leading expert on social psychology,  Don Foster, who was also the author of the book Detention and Torture in South Africa, published in 87, meanwhile testified during the morning on the devastating effects of torture on detainees.

He said torture can both be physical and psychological and both these methods were used during the apartheid regime during the interrogation of detainees. These had devastating effects.

The most common forms of torture were beatings, punching, kicking and shocking detainees. They were also often deprived of sleep.

The case proceeds on Thursday afternoon.

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Pretoria News

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