Timol murder: family still waiting

Jan Rodrigues, now 80, will be investigated with a view of prosecuting him on a charge related to the death of Ahmed Timol.


THREE months after a judge found Ahmed Timol was murdered by police and recommended that three former members of the security police face charges, the anti-apartheid activist’s family are still awaiting answers.

The family this week appealed to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to act without further delay against the former policemen identified by Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, Judge Billy Mothle as having played a role in the cover-up of Timol’s death.

The NPA, in turn, said it had received the case dockets, but these had been sent to the Priority Crimes Investigation Unit for further investigation.

The NPA assured Timol’s family that it hadn’t turned a blind eye to the court’s recommendations, but said there was a process that had to be followed.

Judge Mothle, during his judgment into the reopening of Timol’s inquest, found that he had not committed suicide.

He concluded that the finding of the 1972 inquest when a magistrate found it was suicide and that “no living person is responsible for his death” was wrong.

The judge recommended that Jan Rodrigues, now 80, who was the officer who claimed to have been there when Timol fell from a window on the 10th floor of the notorious John Vorster Square police station in 1971, should be investigated with a view of prosecuting him on a charge of perjury and being an accessory after the fact.

Although Judge Mothle found that Timol did not jump, but was pushed, Rodrigues maintained that he had committed suicide.

The judge also recommended that former security branch officers, Neville Els and Seth Sons (both 82), should be investigated for misleading the court. They maintained that they knew nothing about the assault of detainees and that they had only read about them in the media.

Timol’s nephew, Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee, said the family had heard nothing from the NPA since October last year when Judge Mothle delivered his judgment.

NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku at the time said the order of the judge was clear that there must be an investigation and possible prosecution. He, however, added that there had to be a full investigation before anyone was criminally prosecuted.

Mfaku yesterday confirmed to the Pretoria News that the dockets had been forwarded to the National Director of Public Prosecutions in Joburg. It would in turn be referred to the Priority Crimes Unit for further investigation.

Mfaku also confirmed that the NPA was looking at other matters similar to that of Timol, where families were anxiously awaiting the reopening of inquests into the death of their loved ones who died during the apartheid era.

These include the family of Steve Biko and Matthews Mabelane.

Mfaku did not want to divulge at this stage which matters they were looking into reopening. “All I can say is that these matters are not dead and that we will institute proceedings in the near future. Some of these are already at an advance stage.”

Cajee meanwhile urged the NPA to act in haste regarding the possible prosecution of the three officers implicated in Timol’s case. “They are not young men and time is therefore of the essence. The truth will not only provide closure for us, but it will also assist others families seeking to put the record straight about the death of their loved ones at the hands of the apartheid police.”

Cajee told the Pretoria News that his family will take no joy in seeing the elderly officers go to jail. “If they speak the truth, we are willing to accept a plea-bargain. But the time is meanwhile going by and these people are elderly. We need to ensure that justice is restored.”