The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation on Wednesday accused the police of denying it access to the Johannesburg Central police station to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol.
Timol died at the police station, then known as the notorious John Vorster Square, on October 27, 1971, a week before he would have turned 30, and apartheid police initially claimed he had committed suicide by jumping from the 10th floor of the building. The claims were confirmed by a 1972 inquest but the South Gauteng High Court dismissed the contention after the inquest was reopened in 2017.
Ahmed Kathrada Foundation executive director Neeshan Balton revealed that they held engagements with the SAPS over holding the commemorative event at the police station over the past few weeks.
”We had hoped to have the commemoration service inside the premises of what was the old John Vorster Square police station. For the past few weeks, we have been negotiating with the police, and each time the reasons were changed why it could not happen inside,” he explained. Speaking at Timol’s grave at the Roodepoort Muslim Cemetery, Balton said the Struggle stalwart’s foundation was willing to put up a marquee at the entrance to the building from where he (Timol) was thrown by apartheid police.
”On Friday, I did a site visit with the police, and I think we met all of their requirements, but the approvals didn’t come. Yesterday, at about 3 o’clock, I got the message telephonically that it was being declined,” he said. Balton continued: “We have, however, got the support of the Joburg metro police and others in the city to host the commemoration outside of the police station directly opposite the place where his (Timol’s) body landed”.
The commemoration will take place at 5pm on Wednesday, if the weather permits, according to Balton. If not, we will relocate to Sci-Bono (Discovery Centre in Newtown, Johannesburg) that has been made available to us as well,” he said.
Balton said the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation had hoped that the police would have seen this as an opportunity to be part of the programme of reconciliation, of working together to the kind of closure that is being sought at this time.
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