Ahmed Timol was the 22nd political detainee to die in detention in South Africa after 1960. www.ahmedtimol.co.za
NPA blamed for lack of progress in prosecuting apartheid crimes
Pretoria – The family of slain activist Ahmed Timol has launched a scathing attack on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) accusing it of protecting apartheid officers involved in the killing of activists.
In the papers filed in the South Gauteng High Court, to oppose an application by former apartheid officer Joao Rodrigues for a permanent stay of prosecution, Timol’s nephew Imtiaz Cajee said he felt let down by politicians and the NPA.
In a secret internal memo from former NPA head Vusi Pikoli to ex-minister of justice Brigitte Mabandla, which is contained in the papers and dated February 15, 2007, Pikoli raises the problems of the NPA being able to move forward on prosecuting apartheid killers, and said it appeared the NPA was being hindered in doing its work.
“Since the coming into operation of the amended prosecution policy, the NPA has experienced various problems relating to the implementation thereof.
“These problems are hindering and obstructing the NPA in fulfilling its constitutional mandate, namely to institute criminal proceedings without fear, favour or prejudice
“The SAPS and NIA (National Intelligence Agency) had not made dedicated members available to assist the NPA,” wrote Pikoli. This was dealt with in setting up the Amnesty Task Team.
Pikoli said the other problem was the interpretation of the role of departments in this regard.
He said the role of the task team was not to make recommendations on who to prosecute, but to give support to the NPA. But former SAPS national commissioner Jackie Selebi said the role of the task team was to decide on the prosecutions.
“I have now reached a point where I honestly believe there is improper interference with my work and that I am hindered and/or obstructed from carrying out my functions on this particular matter. Legally I have reached a dead end,” wrote Pikoli.
“It would seem that there is a general expectation on the part of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, SAPS and NIA that there will be no prosecutions and that I must play along. My conscience and the oath of office that I took does not allow that,” Pikoli wrote to then justice minister Mabandla.
Cajee said in his papers that there was a backdoor amnesty for apartheid killers. He said this emerged in the case brought by the sister of slain activist Nokuthula Simelane, to prosecute her killers.
“On the recommendation of the Amnesty Task Team, the NPA was required to amend its prosecution policy to facilitate impunity for apartheid-era criminals,” said Cajee in the papers.
But this amendment was struck down by Judge Francis Legodi in the North Gauteng High Court.
He said the application by Simelane’s family to seek the prosecution of her killers revealed interference in the prosecution of political cases by the NPA.
Cajee said the NPA was “cajoled” to stop working on the cases related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
During its hearings in the 1990s, the TRC indicated that those who had not been granted amnesty would face prosecution.