May 15, 2019

Author: Kylie Thomas (Associate Researcher at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State, University of the Free State)

On 27 October 1971, the parents of South African anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol were informed that their son had committed suicide by throwing himself out of the window of room 1026 of John Vorster Square, the notorious police headquarters in central Johannesburg.

Timol was a member of the South African Communist Party. He was also a well-loved teacher. His family was convinced that he was murdered by the security police. This view was widely accepted by everyone who opposed the apartheid state at the time.

Writing under his pen-name “Frank Talk”, the black consciousness leader Steve Biko expressed his disdain for the patently fabricated claims:

The late Ahmed Timol was ‘prevented’ from dashing through the door but it was found impossible to stop him from ‘jumping’ through the 10th floor window of Vorster Square to his death.

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May 14, 2019

The families of those who died at the hands of the apartheid government have turned to the state capture inquiry to investigate political interference in their TRC cases.

By: Ra’eesa Pather
@raediology NEW FRAME

7 June 2018: Journalist and author Lukhanyo Calata being interviewed about his new book ‘My Father Died For This’. Lukhanyo’s father Fort was one of the Cradock Four murdered by apartheid agents in 1985. (Photograph by Gallo Images/Netwerk24/Jaco Marais)

Around South Africa, families are drawing together against what they feel is a betrayal by the ANC government. Their relatives are freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for democracy, but those believed responsible for their deaths are yet to be prosecuted.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has admitted that political interference led to almost 300 apartheid-era cases being ignored. Now, the families waiting for justice are asking the state capture inquiry to look into how the NPA was captured when it refused to investigate those apartheid crimes. 

In mid-April, while the inquiry known as the Zondo Commission was hearing testimony on political interference in police investigations, author Lukhanyo Calata was preparing to submit another case before the commission led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. 

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May 09, 2019

Joao Rodrigues, the accused for the 1971 murder of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol, appeared this morning before Judge Monama at the Palm Ridge Magistrate Court.

The criminal case is again postponed to 28th June 2019. Judgment is still to be handed down for Rodrigues’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution that was argued in front of a full bench on the 28th and 29th March 2019.

Ends…. ​

Issued by Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee – nephew of Ahmed Timol

May 07, 2019
Apartheid era. 1980’s. The funeral of Dr. Neil Aggett, a South African trade union leader and labour activist, who died at the hands of the South African security police. The funeral was held from the central cathederal, Johannesburg. South Africa. (Photograph by Juhan Kuus)

By Tymon Smith -06 May 2019 NEW FRAME

Minister of Justice Michael Masutha announced late on Friday 3 May that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) would reopen an inquest into the death of Neil Aggett.

Aggett, a medical doctor and trade unionist, was found hanged in his cell at what was then the John Vorster Square police station in central Johannesburg in the early hours of 5 February 1982. 

Workers from various unions downed tools on 11 February 1982 in solidarity with Aggett and in protest against his death, and an estimated 15 000 people attended his funeral.

Aggett’s death lead to international condemnation and was a huge embarrassment for the apartheid regime. An inquest into the circumstances surrounding his death was held and much publicised over the course of that year.

He was the 51st person to die in detention since the introduction of the 90-day detention law in 1963, and the fifth detainee to die at the hands of the Security Branch at John Vorster Square.

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May 06, 2019

Joao Rodrigues, the accused for the 1971 murder of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol, will appear before Judge Monama at the Palm Ridge Magistrate Court (Court 13 at 10:00) on Thursday, 09th May 2019.

The criminal case is expected to be postponed until judgment is handed down for Rodrigues’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution that was argued in front of a full bench on the 28th and 29th March 2019.

Ends…. ​
Issued by Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee – nephew of Ahmed Timol​

Apartheid-Era Crimes: Indeed “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”

OpinioJuris In association with the International Commission of Jurists

Angela Mudukuti

The story of Ahmed Timol is rooted in our brutal past. He was not cut down on the battlefield while in the line of fire. He was detained under pernicious security laws and sadistically tortured for more than 4 days. Timol’s tormentors were police officers who were meant to serve and protect, particularly those in their care. While in an utterly incapacitated and defenceless state, and to cover up their crimes, Timol was thrown from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square. Even though he survived the fall the police did not a lift a finger to help him. Indeed, they took deliberate steps to ensure his death.”

This is the opening paragraph from the submissions made in the South African case of  Rodrigues v NDPP & Others which was heard in court at the end of last month and relates to the murder of anti-apartheid stalwart Ahmed Timol at the hands of the apartheid police. Justice for the crimes of the committed during the apartheid era has been delayed, denied, actively frustrated and the Timol matter is emblematic in this regard.

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April 30, 2019

By Professor Aslam Fataar April 29 2019

And say not of those who are slain in the path of God’s cause. “They are dead”. Nay, they are alive though you perceive it not. (Q2: 154)

This Quranic verse provides one very important way to productively work with the personal, social and political meanings of martyrdom. We should ask how is the martyr alive today?

First, we need to ask permission from the families to speak about their martyred sons and daughters who are burdened by their on – going search for justice.

The answer we give about the living martyrs among us, as the verse exhorts, is the suggestion that they live among us in the ethical sense, in the idea that their death gives life to the higher values and purposes of life: hurriyah (freedom), ‘adl (justice), dignity (karama), and salam, which is the existential condition of peace.

The martyr is alive in the ethical content that we give to our human endeavours.  Shuhada or witness bearing forces a productive conversation between the ethical, our commitment to justice, freedom and dignity on the one hand, and our political behaviour in everyday on the other.

The imperative to bear witness impels us to establish a political path towards justice. The political, legal and juridical are democracy’s instruments available for use towards establishing justice in the service of the greater good.

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April 17, 2019

Families who have waited to see justice for decades-old atrocities are seeing new strides – despite unexpected resistance from the movement that ended apartheid in the first place


At his Pretoria home in 2017, Imtiaz Cajee, holds a portrait of his uncle Ahmed Timol, an anti-apartheid activist brutally killed in police custody in October, 1971. The families of victims from apartheid-era South Africa are joining forces to push for prosecutions in dozens of long-neglected cases.

The police were relentless in their pursuit of Albert Lutuli, the Methodist preacher and anti-apartheid activist who became the first African to win a Nobel Peace Prize. For years, they imprisoned him or kept him under house arrest, banning him from travelling.

And then, one day in 1967, Mr. Lutuli was mysteriously killed on a railway track near his home in Natal province. The authorities said it was an accidental death, caused by a freight train. His family was never convinced. It was just one of the dozens of unexplained deaths of anti-apartheid leaders – a grim toll that mounted in the final decades of white-minority rule.

Today, a quarter-century after apartheid ended, there is growing pressure to bring truth and justice to the families of those who were killed. But there has also been surprising resistance from an unexpected source: the government led by Mr. Lutuli’s own former political movement, the African National Congress (ANC).

Despite government pledges since 2003, and despite repeated pleas by the families of the victims, several hundred cases of apartheid crimes – including murder and torture – are still languishing on the dusty shelves of South Africa’s police and prosecution authorities.

Read more…
April 10, 2019

By Atilla Kisla• 9 April 2019 – DAILY MAVERICK

 Former apartheid police officer Joao Rodrigues Photo: Greg Nicolson / Ahmed Timol 

The crime of apartheid has never been prosecuted before. Therefore, the Ahmed Timol case can pave the way to prosecute the atrocious crimes committed under the system of apartheid.

Forty-seven years had passed since anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol was killed during his detention at John Vorster Square police station in Johannesburg when the South Gauteng High Court heard the matter of Rodrigues v NDPP and Others last week.

The applicant (Rodrigues), a former police officer who is indicted for the murder of Timol and for obstruction of justice, applied for a permanent stay of proceedings based on what he asserts as an unfair trial based on an undue delay of prosecution. The case was argued before a full Bench comprising Judge Seun Dimpheletse Moshidi, Judge Narandran Jody Kollapen and Judge Ingrid Opperman.

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April 08, 2019
Joao Rodrigues at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.
Courtesy of Imtiaz Cajee

The accused, Joao Rodrigues (for the 1971 murder of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol) represented by his legal representatives, Adv. Jaap Cilliers, SC appeared before Judge Monama in the South Gauteng High Court (2A) in Johannesburg this morning (08th April 2019). The criminal case that was due to commence today has now been postponed to 09 May 2019 for the way forward. 

This will allow the full bench that heard Rodrigues’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution on 28th and 29th March 2019 to make a judgment. If the application by the accused is successful, the prosecution against Rodrigues will be permanently stayed. If the application is unsuccessful, a trial date will be set for the criminal matter.


Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee – Nephew of the late Ahmed Timol

April 01, 2019

SABC Digital News Published on Mar 31, 2019 SUBSCRIBE 504K

A full bench of judges has reserved judgment in Joao Rodrigues’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution. The 80-year old wants his defence to rescue him from standing trial for the death of Ahmed Timol, an anti-apartheid activist. A 1972 suicide version was overturned to murder by the Pretoria High Court two years ago. Rodrigues maintained that Timol jumped to his death from the 10th floor window. The incident happened at the then John Vorster Square police station.

Judgement reserved in Joao Rodrigues’ stay of prosecution case