26 July 2017

South Africa: Timol's Injuries Not Consistent With Fatal Fall, Forensic Pathologist Tells Inquest

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Ahmed Timol, late South African Communist Party member who was arrested and interrogated by special branch police at John Vorster Square when he reportedly "fell" to his death. The family has succeeded in having an inquest into the death that was ruled a suicide for 44 years.

Some of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol's injuries, revealed in a post mortem conducted on him, were not consistent with the ones caused by his fatal fall from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.

"There are a number of injuries that are not consistent with a fall from height," forensic pathologist Dr Shakeera Holland testified at the second sitting of the Ahmed Timol Inquest, before Judge Billy Mothle.

"The implication is these injuries must have been present prior to the fatal fall," she said.

Holland performed between 4 000 to 5 000 post mortems during her career.

She presented her findings to the court after studying Timol's post mortem report and photographs from the scene.

She said Timol had multiple injuries which were sustained during a physical assault while in police custody before his death.

Some of the wounds appeared to be older than 12 hours, while others were sustained four to five days before the fatal fall.

She said the post mortem photographs of Timol's face showed that he had not sustained damage as would be expected in an impact from the height.

Holding a dummy skull, Holland described how the left and upper jaw were fractured. She also pointed out an isolated depressed skull fracture, which was rare for a fall from such a height.

Severe injuries

She also said her findings revealed that Timol had an injury to the skull, which might have been caused by a blunt object.

She explained to the court that some of Timol's injuries were severe.

Timol's death, on October 27, 1971, was ruled a suicide in 1972. However, a private investigation commissioned by his family uncovered new evidence which was presented to the National Prosecuting Authority, and the inquest was reopened.

His loved ones refuse to believe that he had jumped from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square (now called Johannesburg Central Police Station) while being interrogated by security police.

Since the inquest began, several witnesses have told the court that they believe Timol was pushed out of the building's window.

On Tuesday, trauma surgeon Professor Kenneth Bofford, who also studied the post mortem, said nothing could have been done to prevent Timol from dying, as he had sustained serious injuries to his neck and spine.

He added that officers who lacked first aid training should not have moved Timol from his position shortly after he landed on the ground.

The inquest continues.

Source: News24

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