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Daughter gave up father to South Africa apartheid probe

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(FILES) This file photo taken on June 12, 2017 shows a general view of the Johannesburg Central Police Station, formerly known as John Vorster Square which was the site of the death of political activist and detainee Ahmed Timol. Police brutality, “fake news” propaganda and official cover-ups at the height of apartheid have been laid bare in a South African court probing the death of a communist activist 46 years ago. / AFP PHOTO / GULSHAN KHAN

The daughter of a South African policeman present when an anti-apartheid activist died suspiciously revealed his whereabouts to the inquest probing the death, the victim’s family said Monday.

Joao Rodrigues, a sergeant in the apartheid regime’s security branch, was present in the room when communist campaigner Ahmed Timol plunged to his death from a Johannesburg police station window in 1971.

A 1972 inquest found he had taken his own life, a verdict Timol’s family have fought ever since.

“She made contact with us and said she was inspired that we were still looking for answers,” Timol’s nephew Imtiaz Cajee told AFP Monday ahead of Rodrigues’ evidence to the inquest into the death.

“The last line of her email (to Timol’s family) said she hoped we’d find closure. This is what we’d wanted for all this years. She’s helping us out — we were surprised.”

Cajee’s account of how Rodrigues was revealed to be alive and located so that he could be ordered to attend Monday’s proceedings in Pretoria was confirmed by a source close to the police.

Timol, a 29-year-old anti-apartheid volunteer, was arrested in Johannesburg in October 1971 and after five days in detention died after plummeting from the tenth-floor of the city’s police headquarters.

Timol’s case is being re-examined following a campaign to expose the truth led by his family.

“It’s taking it to a new dimension — we never thought we’d get Rodrigues,” added Cajee. “He was the last person in the room with my uncle. We were lucky when this email came.”

Timol’s brother Mohammad, who was in court, called the email from Rodrigues’ daughter a “very big development”.

– ‘No way he jumped’ –
“He’s now got to come to court and tell us if he stands by his story that Timol jumped even though the pathologist said he bore signs of torture and a trajectory expert said there is no way he jumped.”

Neville Els — a former security branch officer who specialised in explosives and inspected Timol’s yellow Ford Anglia car after his arrest — gave evidence on Monday.

The judge in the case Billy Mothle warned police witnesses that they could face prosecution based on the inquest’s findings and their evidence to the court.

Els, 82, repeatedly told North Gauteng High Court he could not to recall details of case.

Els was one of the commanders of Paul Erasmus, a security branch officer who told the court last week that torture of detainees suspected of anti-apartheid activities was routine.

“I would not have abused or otherwise tortured detainees,” said Els, who denied interrogating Timol ahead of his death.


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