The unfinished business of apartheid: Families in search of truth

Last week Thursday, Judge Billy Mothle ruled that anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Timol did not commit suicide but was rather murdered by security branch police officers.

The Judge found that Timol died after being tortured and then pushed from a window. The inquest into the death of Timol was reopened in June 2017 after his family wanted the findings of the initial inquest reversed.

Host, Eusebius McKaiser invited Nomarussia Bonase, Judy Seidmen and the nephew of the late Ahmed Timol, Imtiaz Cajee, for a difficult but important conversation on the unfinished business of apartheid.

Cajee says the judgment meant a lot to the family. He explains that if they had accepted the initial findings of Timol's death, then like for many other families, the annals of history would always have reflected that his uncle and over seventy-two other political detainees had committed suicide, and that no one was held responsible for their deaths.

We had taken a stance as a family that we would challenge this ruling. As a family, as political activists, we had known that people like Uncle Timol and many others were brutally tortured. We never knew the true extent of what had transpired within those walls of those notorious police stations.

Imtiaz Cajee, nephew of the late Ahmed Timol

Cajee says he was only five-years-old at the time and had very little knowledge and faint memories of his late uncle. But he spent a lot of time with another uncle of his who when Cajee was twelve, went into exile. Cajee adds that he could see that his uncles and grandparents were broken individuals.

Cajee explains that he took it upon himself to find out what inspired Timol to leave the comforts of London and return to South Africa during what was a difficult time under apartheid and become a part of the underground mission.

After publishing his book, Cajee says many were under the illusion that the story he told was over.

Cajee tells McKaiser that they are now working with other families to get justice for loved ones who died in similar circumstances.

Victims and survivors of the Khulumani Support group... did not stop asking for the persuasion of justice, especially social, economic and political justice. To this day we say injustice has been done to the victims.

Nomarussia Bonase- National Coordinator at the Khulumani Support group

Bonase says the injustices that haven't been dealt with have created a wounded society, psychologically, physically and mentally wounded.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)was originally seen as the first step and even at the time it was clear there were many compromises, even when they put it in place.

Judy Seidmen - American-born graphic artist and poster maker for the ANC

Seidmen explains that Khulumani was established to provide support to people who told their traumatic stories at the TRC. She goes on to say when the TRC was discontinued, the door wasn't closed but closing the door in people's faces.

Nomarussia Bonase is the National Coordinator at the Khulumani Support group, Imtiaz Cajee is the nephew of the late Ahmed Timol and Judy Seidmen is an American-born graphic artist and poster maker for the ANC who has been participating in South Africa's struggles for social justice and national Liberation.

Listen to the full conversation in the clip below:


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