Johannesburg – The apartheid-era police’s claim that Ahmed Timol jumped to his death was unlikely, an aeronautical engineer told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Friday.
Had he jumped from an upper floor or the roof of the John Vorster Square police station, his body would have landed between 4.5m and 13m from the building, Thivash Moodley, of TMI Consultancy, testified during the second inquest into Timol’s death.
“Using the witness’s statements, it is unlikely that the late Mr Timol would have jumped.”
He was found much closer, at a distance of about 1.5m, according to one witness, a prosecutor.
Moodley presented a comprehensive report to the court, based on witness statements from three people – a police officer who was in room 1026 with Timol during his interrogation, a police officer who found Timol’s body, and a prosecutor in floor below, who saw him fall past a window.
Timol’s death, on October 27, 1971, was ruled a suicide after an inquest in 1972.
A private investigation commissioned by his family uncovered new evidence which was presented to the National Prosecuting Authority, and the inquest was reopened.
The prosecutor, Ernest Matthis, was in a room at John Vorster Square, preparing for a motor vehicle accident case, when he saw Timol fall past a window, his body horizontal and parallel to the building.
“I was standing some distance from the window and I saw a person fall,” he testified on Monday. He landed in a prone position with his arm bent behind his head. I looked up and I could not see an open window.”
Moodley said that according to the pathology report, Timol was slender, at 1.6m tall and weighing 61kg.
The officer who was in the room when Timol allegedly committed suicide, Joao Rodrigues, said Timol had jumped out of the window from room 1026.
Moodley said a page detailing what happened was missing from Rodrigues’ statements.
According to security police’s account of the incident, Timol was in good health and spirits at the time. He would have been fit and had full use of his body, and been able to run toward the window, open it, climbed onto the sill and jump.
It would have taken him between five to eight seconds to move from his chair to the sill.
“If someone was trying to escape, they would jump with full force so that they could get away as soon as possible,” Moodley said.
According to the statement of officer JG Deysel, who found Timol’s body, he was lying on his stomach in some shrubbery, his body perpendicular to the building.