Roderigues loses appeal bid in stay of prosecution application


2019-09-18 12:53 – Canny Maphanga

Former apartheid cop Joao Roderigues has lost an application he lodged in a bid to have his prosecution for the murder of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol stayed.

This comes after the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg dismissed the leave to appeal application on Wednesday.

When the application was argued earlier on Wednesday, the court heard that there were no “reasonable prospects of success” in an appeal.

“The respondents are not entirely sure of the case they are required to meet since potentially the applicant is seeking to canvas every finding of fact and every ruling of law made by this honourable court,” advocate Howard Verney argued on behalf of the fourth respondent, Imtiaz Cajee.

Cajee is Timol’s nephew.

“The application ought to have set out in his grounds, not just a shopping list of alleged misdirections, but ‘why and in what respect’ the court erred. This means stipulating how the court erred in applying the law and/or the facts,” he submitted.

Reasonable prospect of success

Roderigues’ initial application for a permanent stay of prosecution application – filed in 2018 – was dismissed in the High Court in June.

In his 45-page judgment at the time, Judge Seun Moshidi said that it was “an affirmation that the principles of accountability and responsibility for breaching the rules of society stand at the doorway of our new constitutional order”.

But Roderigues’ legal team filed a notice of application for leave to appeal on the grounds that an appeal would have a reasonable prospect of success.

The grounds included, among others, that the court misdirected itself in not finding that the “criminal proceedings instituted against the applicant constitutes an unfair trial against the applicant as is envisaged in Section 35(3) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996”.

His lawyers further submitted that the applicant was prejudiced because 47 years was an “extremely long delay and a person in his 80s will not be in a position to defend himself over detailed issues that happened a long time ago”.

On October 27, 1971 Timol’s parents 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, News24 previously reported.

An inquest at the time found that he had committed suicide. That finding was overturned in 2017 after Timol’s family challenged it in the High Court.

A second inquest into the death of Timol found that he was murdered 47 years ago and did not commit suicide.

Following Wednesday’s ruling, Cajee told the media: “We are simply delighted that the application was dismissed, it is something that we anticipated. It has been a long period and we want to commence with a speedy trial.”