The full bench of the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg will on Friday, 31 May 2019 deliver its judgment in the application for a permanent stay of prosecution brought by Joao Rodrigues with respect to the 1972 murder of Ahmed Timol.
Judge Billy Mothle presided over the historic re-opening of the Ahmed Timol inquest ruling on 12th October 2017 that he was murdered, reversing the 1972 inquest finding of suicide. Rodrigues be investigated as he participated in a cover-up to conceal the crime of murder as an accessory after the fact and committed perjury by presenting contradictory evidence before the 1972 and 2017 inquests. Mothle also added that that fellow officers Seth Sons and Neville Els be charged for perjury. Almost nine months later, Rodrigues was indicted for murder and defeating the ends of justice on 30th July 2018. After a number of court appearances, his legal team argued before a full bench on 28th and 29th March 2019 for a permanent stay of prosecution as the matter not been investigated timeously and political interference. Rodrigues’s criminal case is to be heard on 28th June 2019. The NPA have not yet completed the investigations into Sons and Els.
This was opposed by the National Prosecution Authority, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Minister of Police and Timol’s nephew, Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee as an intervening respondent. The South African Litigation Centre, Law Society, lawyers representing the former TRC Commissioners, the Pan African Bar Association of South Africa were amicus curiae who argued against the granting of a permanent stay. Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Minister Advocate Michael Masutha announced the approval for the re-opening of two other inquests of anti-apartheid activists who died in police detention. In September 2018, the re-opening of the inquest of Dr Hoosen Haffejee who died in August 1977 at the Brighton Police Station in Durban was announced and in April 2019, the death of trade unionist Dr Neil Aggett at John Vorster Square Police Station in 1981. No date has been set for the commencement of both inquests.
It has been reported that Steven Whitehead, interrogator of Aggett, had passed on days before the announcement was made to re-open the inquest was made. Rodrigues, Sons and Els who are in their 80s and many other apartheid-era officers might not see their day in court as the wheels of justice slowly grind on. This travesty of injustice will only compound the misery of victims’ families as 25 years in a democratic South Africa, there are no closer to getting closure.
There has been no response from the Presidency to the correspondence sent on 06th February 2019 by former TRC Commissioners to President Ramaphosa urging him to appoint a commission of inquiry into the political interference that stopped the investigation and prosecution of cases referred by the TRC to the NPA. In addition, the President, has also not responded to the call for him to apologise to victims. The Ministers of Justice and Police have also maintained their silence.
Judgment on Rodrigues’s application will be handed down on Friday, 31 May 2019 , 10:00 at the SOUTH GAUTENG HIGH COURT, ROOM 2A.
The Criminal case is set to commence on 28 JUNE 2019.
Issued by Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee – nephew of the late Ahmed Timol