D-day for apartheid cop's bid to escape prosecution for Timol murder

30 May 2019 - 06:12 By ernest Mabuza
Joao Rodrigues, the apartheid-era policeman implicated in the 1971 murder of activist Ahmed Timol, at the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on July 30 2018.
Joao Rodrigues, the apartheid-era policeman implicated in the 1971 murder of activist Ahmed Timol, at the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on July 30 2018.
Image: ALON SKUY

The high court in Johannesburg will on Monday pass judgment on whether Joao Rodrigues, the former security policeman implicated in the murder of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol in 1971, should be prosecuted.

The full bench of the high court will pass judgment in the application for a permanent stay of prosecution that was brought by Rodrigues late last year.

Timol died in 1971 after falling from the 10th floor of the then John Vorster Square police station in Johannesburg, where he had been detained.

While the original inquest in 1972 concluded that Timol had committed suicide, the reopened inquest in 2017, headed by Judge Billy Mothle, found that his death was a result of being pushed. It also recommended that Rodriques be investigated.

Rodrigues was indicted for murder and defeating the ends of justice in July 2018. After a number of appearances in court in 2018, Rodrigues applied for a permanent stay of prosecution. The application was opposed by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the minister of justice, the minister of police and Imtiaz Cajee, Timol's nephew.

Lawyers for Rodrigues argued that the basis of his application for a permanent stay of prosecution was that the prosecution would infringe on his right to have a trial begin and be concluded without unreasonable delay.

But in a response filed in court, Cajee's legal representative said no complaint of delay, prejudice or violation of fair trial rights could be raised by Rodrigues, given that the criminal proceedings commenced only in June 2018.

If the permanent stay of prosecution is not granted, Rodrigues' trial is set to begin on June 28.

*This article was updated on Thursday afternoon, to reflect a postponement in the judgment from Friday to Monday, as communicated to the Timol family by officials.


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