Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

A second witness has blown out of the water the claim by apartheid police that it was in the afternoon when anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol fell to his death, from the 10th floor of the John Vorster Square building, in 1971.

The autopsy report recorded Timol’s death to be at about 4pm, but Mohammed Adam‚ who worked at Dollars Petrol Station across the road from the building‚ on Thursday told the inquest‚ heard in the High Court in Pretoria‚ that the incident occurred mid-morning.

Adam said he was on tea break when his boss drew his attention to a commotion at John Vorster Square. He said it took him about four minutes to cross the busy street and that there were a few people already gathered at the scene.

"I was about 10m away [and] what I could see was a body lying there. I could say the body was facing up because the shoe was pointed up‚" he said.

Adam said the body‚ obscured by shrubs‚ was lying about 2m from the edge of the building. He said he was not at the scene for long as mostly white police officers chased everybody away.

He could not have been mistaken with the time because he was on tea break‚ which was normally at about 10am.

Mohammad Ali Thokan‚ who testified last week‚ was the first witness to dispute Timol’s recorded time of death.

He said on the morning of October 27 1971, he had stopped at the filling station to fill up when he heard a loud thud and then a person exclaiming that a person had fallen from John Vorster Square.

It was this evidence that forced Judge Billy Mothle to recall forensic pathologist Dr Steve Naidoo to the witness box, to help the inquest on Timol’s time of death.

Naidoo told the inquest that the autopsy report had very little information to work on‚ saying "there is no evidence to make such a finding. So the conclusion one can reach is that the death could have occurred equally in the morning as it could have occurred in the afternoon." An inquest held in 1972 found that Timol had committed suicide by jumping from the 10th floor of the 13-storey building. However‚ Timol’s family have refused to believe that he killed himself and asked for the inquest to be reopened because new information had come to light.

Thokan told the court that he did not hear any screams‚ just a thud.

Two forensic pathologists have concluded that Timol was barely alive when he fell.

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