As day three of the inquest into the death of apartheid activist Ahmed Timol continued this morning, famed human rights lawyer George Bizos took to the stand, and gave his first-hand testimony into the case.
Bizos was a junior lawyer who was on the legal team that represented the Timol family at the time of his death, and also represented Dr Saleem Essop, who was arrested with Timol.
In today’s sitting, Bizos explained to Judge Billy Mathle that when Timol had died, Essop was in a comatose state, unaware of what was going on around him.
This was as a result of severe torture from the state police.
“I spoke to him. Did you know that you were comatose? No I didn’t know that. Did he know that a doctor came and examined him? I didn’t know that any doctor came to examine me.
"Did you know that your father made an application through us about you being in a hospital in Pretoria? And no, I didn’t know that I was in a hospital,” Bizos explained.
He went on to explain that an application had to be made in order to locate Essop and to ensure that his parents could see him.
Bizos was also asked to comment on the treatment of detainees by the police based on the testimony of a Colonel Greyling, whom Bizos had quoted in his affidavit. Greyling was part of the security branch.
“When Greyling gave evidence, he said that the detainees were not ill-treated. That the allegations of torture were an invention of the communist and liberal press.
"He and his fellow police officers regarded people like Essop as their ‘children’,” advocate Howard Varney read.
“It is a very bad lie. We have a person who was comatose and didn’t know what happened for days in his life. Is this what you do with a child?” Bizos replied.
Bizos also spoke about the failure of the doctors who oversaw the injuries of Timol, and their eventual dismissal from the medical doctors’ roll for their failure to look after him.
Court resumes tomorrow morning where Ahmed Timol’s brother will be taking the stand.