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Timol inquest documents made public

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The inquest documents into the death of Ahmed Timol will provide more than just historical value, shedding new insight into his life as an activist and Apartheid police accounts of what happened during his detention, according to Zaakirah Vadi of the Kathrada Foundation.

Tuesday marked the 44th anniversary of Timol’s tragic demise whilst in police custody. The police narrative alleges the anti-apartheid activist committed suicide by plunging ten storeys from what is now the Johannesburg Central Police Station. The location on Tuesday proved to be the scene of an historic event for South Africans, as the inquest documents into his death were officially made available to the public.

Vadi said family members remain unconvinced by police accounts of Timol’s death, and are adamant that like many others taken into political detention during Apartheid, he was in fact murdered.

“It is important that these documents are persevered, and that is what the foundation is doing. They have been digitised and can be found on our website. It is about making it accessible to the broader public, but also keeping the information for future generations,” she explained.

While the documents don’t reveal anything specifically new on the case, they shed a substantial amount of detailed information on his arrest and subsequent death, the latter at least from a police perspective. The information includes that of the ‘illegal’ political pamphlets Timol had in his vehicle at the time of his arrest.

“You’ll find a copy of that pamphlet and the type of information he was spreading, his role as a member of the South African Community Party, and as an underground operative who had a network of people he would reach out to.

It sheds very detailed information into his work, as well as the workings of the security police,” she stated.

The documents are only partial and come from a lawyer who at the time represented the Timol family. The digitised copies can be found at or VOC Mubeen Banderker)

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