23 October 2012

Ahmed Timol website launched 41 years after his death at John Vorster Square

Ahmed was one of the victims who plunged to his death from the notorious 10th floor of John Vorster Square, now Johannesburg Central Police Station, in 1971. He was reportedly the 22nd political detainee to die in detention since 1960. Like others who died in that fashion, his death was deemed as suicide.

The website is a commemoration of his life, his selfless contribution to the struggle against apartheid and seeks to create a platform for the further exploration of the unresolved case. The website provides all records of the information relating to his death that his family has been able to collect in within the last 41 years since his death.

This information includes an extensive collection of newspaper articles and official records such as the official inquest report.

However, the one thing his family is still trying to obtain is information that forms part of classified records of the Security Branch which may shed light regarding precise details of his death. Ahmed was arrested at a roadblock on October 22, 1971 and died five days later at John Vorster Square.

"Retrieving records from the apartheid archives is a long and tedious process. Bureaucrats who have no understanding of our struggle history are responsible for making decisions to de-classify these records," says Imtiaz Cajee, whose Ahmed Timol's nephew and the brainchild of the website.

Ahmed Timol was honoured by the South African government on 11 December 2009, when President Jacob Zuma bestowed upon him posthumously the Order of Luthuli in Silver. The Order is awarded to South Africans who have made a meaningful contribution to the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice and peace, and conflict resolution.

John Vorster Square renamed

15 years ago, John Vorster Square was renamed Johannesburg Central Prison. To mark this, SAHA developed an exhibition and a related publication and DVD titled, Between Life and Death - Stories from John Vorster Square, which takes one on a virtual walk through the police cells on the 10th floor of South Africa's most notorious police station where the security forces reigned in apartheid South Africa, the DVD features interviews with former detainees and security police, as well as photographs, press clippings, drawings and other archival materials, revealing the horrors of detention without trial.

Visit the Ahmed Timol website