/ 27 October 2017

Letters to the editor: October 27 to November 2 2017

Those who knew Ahmed Timol and his family never for a moment believed that he committed suicide
Those who knew Ahmed Timol and his family never for a moment believed that he committed suicide

Timol ruling sets us free

Let me congratulate Ra’eesa Pather on the article “Justice for Timol leaves us with bittersweet grief”” (October 13), which eloquently captured the sentiments of many of us who knew Ahmed Timol and what he believed in and fought for. I knew Ahmed and his family as a friend and neighbour in Roodepoort, until I left South Africa in 1962 to recommence my education in England. Ahmed and I spent hours together on our stoep, discussing the brutality of apartheid.

The next time I met Ahmed was in London in 1968. I was honoured by his presence at my wedding but little did I realise that this was the last time I would see him alive. On October 29 1971, while at work in my college, I came across the Manchester Guardian’s story of Ahmed’s death. I sent a telegram to his family clearly stating that we did not believe Ahmed committed suicide. Since that fateful day, I have not had a single moment of doubt that he was brutally murdered by the security apparatus of the apartheid regime. (I elaborate on this aspect in my memoirs, The Cycle of Life, to be published soon.)

When Judge Billy Mothle announced his verdict, the overriding emotions I experienced were relief and liberation. Now, after 46 years, the truth, which all those who knew Ahmed well have never doubted, has been established.

We now need to celebrate Ahmed’s life for his contribution to the struggle to establish a free and democratic South Africa. He was a kind, compassionate, articulate person who cared more for the poor and oppressed people in South Africa than for his own wellbeing. He was a gifted batsman in cricket, an admired teacher and a modest role model for many of us.

Ahmed’s legacy lives on through Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee and Mohammad Timol, his nephew and his brother, in their integrity, courage, tenacity and persistence in establishing the truth publicly, despite setbacks. It also restores our faith in the South African judicial system and gives hope that the truth can be established about the other 72 people who died in detention.

I am enormously privileged and proud to have known Ahmed Timol and his family. I admire what his nephew and his brother have achieved to end the years of denial. — Ahmed Choonara

Look after lecturers and the rest will follow

Ian Scott has presented a well-crafted argument to support his comment “Core issues besides finance and access hinder students’ success” (October 20). However, he has completely ignored the role of the academic staff (who for years have been exhorted to “do more with less”) in the currently disturbed higher education arena.

With managerial changes directed at advancing students without balancing this with supporting resources, academic staff members have performed their profession in an environment of heavy workloads, escalating numbers of meetings and unprecedented administrative duties.

All of these hinder the sustained, productive face-to-face interaction needed to teach and supervise increasingly multifarious under- and postgraduates, whose heterogeneity, levels of preparedness and motivations require nuanced approaches and epistemic sensitivities.

Without the academic staff there would be no academic wheel to turn, no university to attend, no one to enhance the scientific reputation and research standing of our country, and no role models for the students.

If academic staff are not given the voice and space to realise each student’s full potential, no amount of taxpayers’ money or managers, nor the recently appointed higher education minister, Hlengiwe Mkhize, will make one jot of difference to student access and success. — ES Grossman, Eastern Cape

Governor in Zuma statue row ‘the worst’

Imo state governor Rochas Okorocha’s government is sustained on undiluted and unintelligently concocted lies (“Nigerian government faces criticism over ‘embarrassing’ Zuma statue”, October 16, Mail & Guardian Online). He has plunged Imo into a bottomless pit of poverty and misery. The government now prides itself on signposts and goofy statues. Shame!

Ask Okorocha what he has achieved and he will show you the ruined city of Owerri. He has not conducted council elections for more than six years, making him the worst governor in Imo history.

If we don’t have council government, where are the more than 100-billion naira in council funds and more than 70-billion naira belonging to the Imo State Oil-Producing Area Development Commission?

May God preserve us from self-centred politicians who wish simply to advance their stomachs. — Kenneth Uwadi, Mmahu-Egbema, Nigeria