30 September 2021: IOL – By Mayibongwe Maqhina
The criminal trial against apartheid-era security branch officer Joao Rodrigues, for the murder of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol, was struck off the roll in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Timol’s nephew Imtiaz Cajee confirmed this to Independent Media this afternoon.
“I can confirm to you that the case was removed from the court roll today. I was there,” Cajee said.
He also said Rodrigues was expected to make his 20th court appearance in 3 years and 2 months for the murder of Timol.
Cajee said the sad reality was that the criminal justice system has failed them.
“In such a lengthy period his criminal case could not commence. The state must take responsibility for it.
“And the question to be asked is whose interest that they are serving between the victims of apartheid and the perpetrators. Their actions demonstrate that they are not looking after the interests of the victims and that is why this man could evade his criminal charge.”
He noted with concern that Rodrigues’s legal cost were paid by the taxpayers.
“It raises serious concerns and the government must be held accountable. They must take responsibility that the man got away with the murder of my late uncle.”
The Ahmed Timol Trust had indicated in a statement issued on Wednesday that the criminal trial would be removed from the court roll.
This was after Rodrigues died on September 7 without having his day in court.
“After been charged on 30 July 2018 for murder and defeating the aims of justice, he subsequently made 19 court appearances,” the trust said in the statement.
Rodrigues was charged for the murder of Timol after the second inquest found that he did not die from suicide.
In 1972, an inquest ruled that Timol committed suicide when he jumped to his death at John Vorster Square police station in October 1971 and that nobody was responsible for his death.
When the inquest was re-opened, Judge Billy Mothle in October 2017 overturned the 1972 inquest finding of suicide to Timol been murdered in police detention.
The National Prosecuting Authority subsequently recommended that Rodrigues be investigated for his role in Timol’s death.
Rodrigues made his first court appearance in July 2018 for murder and defeating the ends of justice.
However, he applied for permanent stay of prosecution in March 2019 but his application was dismissed in September that year.
The Supreme Court of Appeal heard his leave to appeal the dismissal of his application of stay of prosecution in November 2020.
This was dismissed but he was granted leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court and a court date was still being awaited.