A judge in South Africa has ruled that a prominent anti-apartheid activist was murdered by being pushed to his death from the tenth floor of a police building.
This overturned the 1972 ruling that Ahmed Timol committed suicide days after he was detained.
This is the first time since the end of apartheid in 1994 that an inquest into an activist’s death has been opened.
Timol died at age 29 while working for South Africa’s communist party, during the apartheid era.
South African police had always maintained that he took his own life, based on a communist doctrine that members take their own lives, instead of allowing themselves to be interrogated by the Police.
But his family insisted he was murdered by the Police. This position that was confirmed by testimonies at the trial that he was pushed from a window at the John Foster Square Police Station in Johannesburg or from the roof of the building.
This ruling could trigger inquests into other suspicious killings recorded during the apartheid era. Many families remain unconvinced by the official reasons assigned to the death of their loved ones.
The judge in Timol’s case has ruled that police officers involved in such killings must be prosecuted for their roles in these murders.
Many of the police officers involved in such crimes lied under oath in court and at the Truth and Reconciliation hearings.