Ahmed Timol's legal teams asks South Africans to help expose truth of 8 other apartheid-era deaths
After successfully disproving the apartheid police's claim that struggle activist Ahmed Timol committed suicide, key role-players are now looking to uncover what happened in eight other unsolved cases.
The team of investigators, lawyers and human rights advocates behind last year's reopening of the 46-year-old inquest into Timol's murder in police custody is appealing to South Africans for information relating to eight more deaths.
The eight cases under scrutiny are the alleged "suicides" in police custody of Neil Aggett, Hoosen Haffejee and Babla Saloojee; the alleged "accidental" death of Matthews Mabelane; the alleged "natural" deaths of Nicodemus Kgoathe, Solomon Modipane and Jacob Monnakgotla; and the disappearance and murder of Nokuthula Simelane following her abduction by the Security Branch in 1983.
According to the Foundation for Human Rights, nobody applied for amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in connection with their deaths.
"In its final report, the TRC recommended these and other cases be investigated for purposes of prosecution, but nearly 20 years later, scant progress has been made."
After years of campaigning by the Timol family, the inquest into the death of Ahmed Timol was re-opened last year. The inquest ruled that his cause of death should be changed from suicide to murder at the hands of police.
The team that supported the Timol family - including representatives of the Foundation for Human Rights, Legal Resources Centre, Khulumani Support Group and law firm Webber Wentzel, detective Frank Dutton, advocate Howard Varney, and the nephew of the late Ahmed Timol, Imtiaz Cajee - are heading up the fight to reveal more apartheid police cover-ups.
'Come forward so that justice may finally be done'
The foundation said that former TRC spokesperson Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu gave his blessing for the investigations to go ahead, saying families of the victims had waited far too long for justice.
"Information leading to the resolution of these cases will bring closure and healing, not only to these families, but also to the nation. It will contribute to developing a caring and compassionate society, besides preserving the memory and dignity of those who laid down their lives for our democracy," Tutu said.
Yasmin Sooka, director of the Foundation for Human Rights and a former TRC commissioner, commended the South African media for its coverage of the reopened Timol inquest.
A key witness was discovered as a consequence of the coverage, she said.
She appealed directly to former security policemen to break ranks with their "apartheid masters, who can no longer afford them protection".
Sooka also called on others who may have information - from members of other branches of the police to cleaners, health and auxiliary workers - "to come forward so that justice may finally be done".
South Africans with information on the Simelane and Aggett cases are asked to contact Moray Hathorn or call 011 530 5000, while those with information on the Mabelane, Saloojee, Haffejee, Kgoathe, Modipane and Monnakgotla matters can contact Naseema Fakir or call 011 836 9831.
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