Pretoria - Thursday is expected to be a historical day for the family of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol, as they hope to receive the answers and justice which they have been awaiting for the past 46 years.
The high court in Pretoria will deliver its judgment then during the second leg of the inquest into Timol’s death.
Judge Billy Mothle is expected to make a finding as to who is responsible for his death. He is also expected to make recommendations to the National Prosecuting Authority in this regard.
Timol died in October 1971 after falling from the 10th floor of the notorious John Vorster Square police station in Johannesburg. The original inquest accepted the version of security branch officers that he had committed suicide by jumping out of the window.
But Timol’s family never accepted this. His nephew Imtiaz Cajee and brother Mohammad Timol, in particular, refused to let go of their quest for truth and justice.
Their tenacity resulted in the court reopening the inquest, during which a series of witnesses testified over about a month.
The family from the start said they were only interested in the truth and that they did not seek vengeance or retribution. They maintained that if the truth was disclosed, they would not seek a prosecution on any charge.
But they changed their stance as the evidence unfolded and it was clear that those security branch officials who were involved in Timol’s detention, lied about the circumstances surrounding his death.
The handful former officers who are still alive and called to the witness stand - all mostly deep into their 70s - stuck to their guns that Timol and others in his position, were never tortured. This, even though medical evidence clearly proved that Timol had suffered a number of injuries even before he fell to his death.
The Timol family, under these circumstances, were now seeking justice against those who were covering-up the crimes committed against Timol.
Cajee on Wednesday said that they are desperately seeking closure and answers. “We are on the verge of a ruling reversing the findings of the magistrate during the first inquest (held in 1972) who stated that Uncle Ahmed had committed suicide.”
Perhaps the person awaiting the judgement with the greatest anticipation is former security branch officer Jan Rodrigues, the last person who were with Timol when he fell to his death.
Rodrigues, now deep in his 70s, remained tight-lipped about what really happened that day.
Even after he was thrown a lifeline by the judge to tell the truth, Rodrigues maintained it was suicide. This, regardless of the consequences to himself.