Statement from the Ahmed Timol Family Trust

Lawyers representing apartheid era security policeman, Joao “Jan” Roderigues, will explain to the South Gauteng High Court tomorrow (Monday, 10am, Room 2B) why their client should not be prosecuted for the murder of detained anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol nearly 47 years ago.

Their argument is expected to include that Rodrigues’ should not be prosecuted on the basis of his age (79) and the amount of time that has passed since Timol’s murder.

The court’s response to their argument will have implications, beyond Rodrigues, for other former members and controllers of apartheid-era security forces who perpetrated grievous crimes but either chose not to approach the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for amnesty or had amnesty applications declined. The TRC, in its final report published in 1999, recommended 300 cases for further investigation.

Roderigues is in court as a consequence of the State last year re-opening the inquest into Timol’s death following pressure from the Timol family and the discovery of new evidence. Mr Justice Billy Mothle altered the 1972 court’s finding of suicide to one of murder at the hands of the police.

Timol was one of 73 activists who died in police custody between 1963 and 1990. Police at the time ascribed all the deaths to suicide or accidents. The Timol inquest was the first of these cases to be re-opened by the State.

Last month the State informed the family of Dr Hoosen Haffejee, who police claimed committed suicide in 1977, that it was ready to re-open the inquest into his death. The families of other detainees who died in detention – including Nicodemus Kgoathe, Solly Modipane and Jacob Monnakgotla, Imam Haron and Mathew Mabelane – continue to wait for justice.


* This statement was distributed for the Ahmed Timol Family Trust by Oryx Media (Benny Gool 082 5566 556 / Roger Friedman 079 8966 899).