Pretoria - This is part of an ongoing journey. This is not the end.
This was the words of Imtiaz Cajee, nephew of Ahmed Timol following the verdict by the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria on Thursday that Timol did not commit suicide 46 years ago when he fell from the notorious John Vorster Square police station in Johannesburg.
Judge Billy Mothle found that Timol was either pushed from the 10th floor of the building or from the roof.
He found that the then security branch police officers who had interrogated Timol at the time, were collectively responsible for his death and should be held accountable.
“Timol did not jump….he was pushed and thus he did not commit suicide, but was murdered,” the judge said.
He said the act was committed through the dolus eventualis - his interrogators should have foreseen that he could die - an on the face of it, it amounted to murder.
Judge Mothle said there is prima facie evidence implicating security branch officers Hans Gloy and Johannes van Niekerk. But both had since passed away.
Jan Rodrigues, the officer who claimed to be there when Timol fell out of the window, should be investigated with a view of prosecuting him on a charge of perjury and being an accessory after the fact.
“Rodrigues, on his own version, participated in the cover-up to conceal the crime of murder as an accessory after the fact. He went on to commit perjury by presenting contradictory evidence before the 1971 and 2017 inquests,” the judge said.
He continued that it is the view of the court that the families whose relatives died in detention, particularly those where the inquest findings were death by suicide, should be assisted at their initiative, to obtain the records and gather further information to have the initial inquest reopened.
The judge said the Human Rights Commission, working with the law enforcement agencies, should be sufficiently resourced to take on this task.
Thoko Mpumlwana of the Foundation for Human Rights, after the judgment said “This is just the beginning. She expressed her hope that other families such as that of Steve Biko and Matthew Mabelane, will one day find the real truth behind their deaths. “It is not so much about prosecution, it is about the truth,” she said.
Nkosinathi Biko, Steve Biko’s eldest son, said they too, would like to see his inquest reopened. He said the fact that there was nobody to blame for what happened to Biko and others in his position, should haunt us as a nation.
“As family of Steve Biko we have walked a the path. It was a long journey and one we will take to the end. We want our voices heard.”
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku gave the assurance that the prosecuting authority will take matters further.
“The NPA will ensure that all matters which are not resolved, are resolved." He said the prosecuting authority will give its assistance to other families who are still seeking closure.
“The NPA is pleased with the outcome of the inquest. It is a historical one. It has never happened in the past. When the (Timol) family approached the prosecution authority for the first time, we indicated that we will ensure that these matters are resolved.”
He said the NPA from the start indicated that the investigating officer had to investigate these matters so that the families could get closure.
Mfaku said the order of the judge was clear in this case that there must be an investigation and possible prosecution.
“But the findings were made on a balance of probabilities and it must be thoroughly investigated so that when we get to a court of law, we could prove our case beyond any doubt.”