Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol was not suicidal an inquest into his death — sitting in the South Gauteng High Court — heard on Tuesday.
“Ahmed never wanted to die, he loved life like me. Even Ahmed’s girlfriend never knew that he anticipated to take his own life or he was suicidal,” Dr Salim Essop said during the inquest into Timol’s death.
Timol’s death was ruled as suicide by jumping out of the 10th floor of the infamous John Vorster Square, currently known as the Johannesburg Central police station.
Timol’s family believes that he was killed by apartheid police and he was never suicidal.
The inquest, brought by Timol’s family, aims to overturn a June 1972 ruling by magistrate JL de Villiers that Timol had committed suicide.
Essop was arrested with Ahmed in 1971 after a car they were travelling in was stopped by apartheid police. Banned South African Communist Party (SACP) and African National Congress (ANC) literature was found in the car.
Essop told the court about a range of torture tactics he said were meted out against him, including being tied with a plastic bag around his head to a point where he said he felt like he was suffocating, being kicked repeatedly in a method known as “mule kickers”, and being subjected to electric shocks that caused him “excruciating pain”.
He told the court that he was in a state of near death when he was taken to hospital after four agonising days of torture.
“My memory is a bit hazy, I don’t recall all the details but I remember when I arrived in a hospital a nurse said this guy is not going to make it,” he said.
The presiding judge appointed to oversee the inquest, Billy Mothle, asked Essop if he would be able to identify the officer who assaulted him while he was incarcerated.
“I would be able to recognise them, some of their pictures I still have them which I took from newspapers.”
Torie Pretorius for the National Prosecuting Authority asked Essop about the injuries on Timol which did not appear to have been caused by the fall. Police initially said that the injuries were caused by a brawl he was in before his arrest.
“I don’t recall Ahmed engaging in a fight if it’s anything Ahmed was never a type who would engage in a brawl, he was mild and would have handled the situation.”
The court adjourned and went to the Johannesburg Central police station to conduct an in loco inspection of the scene where Timol plunged to his death.
The inquest is expected to continue with more witnesses on Wednesday.[African News Agency]