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SAfrican activist jumped to death, ex-guard tells apartheid probe

– ‘Still looking for answers’ –

Until recently, Timol’s family thought Joao Rodrigues was dead.

But following their high-profile campaign for information including court action, protests, exhibitions and a book on the incident, his daughter contacted them.

“She was inspired that we were still looking for answers,” Timol’s nephew Imtiaz Cajee told AFP Monday ahead of Rodrigues’ evidence to the inquest.

“The last line of her email said she hoped we’d find closure. This is what we’d wanted for all these years. She’s helping us out — we were surprised.”

Cajee’s account of how Rodrigues was revealed to be alive and was located so that he could be ordered to attend Monday’s proceedings in Pretoria was confirmed by a source close to the police.

Cajee said that the testimony of Rodrigues, who claimed to have been only a pay clerk passing through police headquarters at the time of the death, added a new dimension to the inquest.

“We never thought we’d get Rodrigues. He was the last person in the room with my uncle. We were lucky when this email came,” he said.

Timol’s brother Mohammad, who was in court, also called the email from Rodrigues’ daughter a “very big development”.

“He stands by his story that Timol jumped even though the pathologist said he bore signs of torture and a trajectory expert said there is no way he jumped.”

Neville Els — a former security branch officer who specialised in explosives and inspected Timol’s yellow Ford Anglia car after his arrest — also gave evidence on Monday.

Els, 82, repeatedly told North Gauteng High Court he could not recall details of cases.

The judge in the case, Billy Mothle, warned Els and Rodrigues that they could face prosecution based on the inquest’s findings and their evidence to the court.

The inquest continues.

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