Rodrigues manoeuvres the legal system at tax-payers expense
Press Release: 29 July 2021
Friday, 30 July 2021 marks three (3) years since João Rodrigues, murder accused of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol was charged at the Johannesburg Central Police Station, formerly known as John Vorster Square Police Station. Apartheid security police claimed that Timol had jumped to his death from room 1026 at John Vorster Square Police Station on 27 October 1971.
Rodrigues made his first court appearance at the Johannesburg Magistrate Court. He was charged by the State for murder and defeating or obstructing the ends of justice and was granted bail of two thousand rands. It was in the Johannesburg Magistrate Court where the 1972 inquest into Timol’s death was heard. Magistrate de Villiers’s verdict on 22 June 1972 on the cause of death read as follows: “The deceased died because of serious brain damage and loss of blood sustained when he jumped out of a window of Room 1026 at John Vorster Square and fell to the ground on the southern side of the building. He committed suicide. No living person is responsible for his death”.
Timol was the 22nd detainee to have died in police detention and many others were to follow. Looksmart Ngudle was the first to have died in 1963.
In a period of three (3) years, Rodrigues has made nineteen (19) court appearances and his criminal trial has not yet commenced. His legal counsel in March 2019 brought about a 342A Application to the Full Bench of the South Gauteng High Court that proved unsuccessful in June 2019. Petitioning the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein in November 2020 to review the decision of the Full Bench also proved unsuccessful. In dismissing his bid, the SCA verdict in June 2021 granted Rodrigues’s leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court in Braamfontein.
Papers filed by Rodrigues’ counsel to the Constitutional Court now refer to their client suffering from continuous ill health and fading memory after allegedly suffering from a stroke in April 2021. No medical certificates were submitted to support this claim. However, Timol’s nephew, Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee who has been fighting for justice for his uncle, points out that no reference was made of Rodrigues’s medical condition when he appeared before the case manager, Judge Monama P on 8 April and 6 May 2021.
Cajee remarked that this was odd in view of the fact that when Rodrigues appeared in court before Judge Monama P, he was very much in control of his faculties and displayed no signs of a stroke, let alone discomfort. This is exacerbated by the fact that when Rodrigues was charged for indecent assault, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and attempted rape (as indicated in the case docket), in the criminal case registered by his daughter, Tilana Stander, he was in a position to enter into negotiations with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Charges were withdrawn against him after a full written apology was furnished to his daughter in a signed statement by Rodrigues on 14 May 2021 that was handed into the court records as an exhibit. Nowhere was it indicated that he was incapable of distinguishing between right or wrong or that any of his faculties had been impaired.
As the respondents in the legal matter file papers at the Constitutional Court, Cajee is convinced that Rodrigues has successfully played the legal system ensuring that his criminal trial is yet to commence. A PAIA application seeking to establish the costs incurred by the State revealed in November 2019 a staggering amount of R 3 585, 205.92 (Three million five hundred and eighty-five thousand two hundred and five rand, ninety-two cents) of taxpayers’ money had been paid so far to his legal counsel. Requests to furnish a breakdown and updated total costs have been unsuccessful. Judge Monama has been scathing on the Office of the State Attorney who continues to cover his legal costs for appeals delaying his criminal trial.
“The claim of Rodrigues’ medical condition is a clear sign of things to come. He has had no intention of going to court as there is expert witness evidence corroborating that my Uncle did not commit suicide, but was murdered in police detention. Rodrigues must be held accountable for his actions as he is not willing to speak the truth of what really happened”, adds Cajee.