DOJ forced to disclose nearly R3.6m paid for Rodrigues


DOJ &CD forced to disclose nearly R3.6m paid for Rodrigues legal costs, at taxpayers’ expense

Cajee calls on State Attorney to stop subsidising legal efforts to delay criminal trial

A Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) Application submitted by Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee in May 2019 to the Department of Justice & Correctional Services (DOJ&CD) requesting the total financial costs incurred by the State for the legal costs of Joao Antonio Rodrigues has revealed that a staggering R 3 585, 205.92 (Three million five hundred and eighty-five thousand two hundred and five rand, ninety-two cents) of taxpayers’ money has been paid so far.  This covers the inquest, criminal remands and the stay of prosecution.  It should be noted that the criminal trial of Rodrigues has not even started as yet. 

Remarkably the DOJ&CD is refusing to provide a breakdown of the costs paid, since it “will encroach on private individuals“.  The attorney for Rodrigues , Mr Ben Minnaar refused to consent to such disclosure.  Mr Minnaar previously worked in the State Attorney’s Office and resigned once Rodrigues was charged.  Read the response here. 

Mr Rodrigues is entitled to have his legal defence in his criminal trial paid by the state, since as a member of the erstwhile Security Branch of the South African Police he was carrying out orders of his superiors in ensuring the demise of the late Ahmed Timol.  The modus operandi of the Security Branch at that time was to murder in order to cover up crimes, such as torture.  However, the State Attorney has a discretion to decline to pay his legal costs where it will be contrary to the interests of the State or the public.  While Rodrigues is entitled to a criminal legal defence paid by the state his continued efforts to delay his trial, and seek a permanent stay of prosecution, constitutes an abuse of the court process and is manifestly not in the public interest. I accordingly call on the State Attorney to immediately decline to pay further costs in his attempt to delay and stop his trial.

The criminal trial judge, Judge Ramarumo Monama, been particularly scathing about the accused’s legal fees which includes two senior advocates, Advocate Jaap Cilliers SC, and Advocate Fanus Coetzee and his attorney, which come from state coffers. 

Rodrigues heads back to the Germiston Palmridge High Court, Room 13 on Thursday, 12 December 2019 seeking yet another postponement in his criminal trial. Rodrigues bid to appeal the Full bench decision of the South Gauteng High Court which denied him a permanent stay of prosecution on 18th September 2019 for his role in the murder of Ahmed Timol in October 1971 was dismissed.  He specifically sought the constitution of a full bench to ‘curtail proceedings”.  His application for leave to appeal was dismissed by the same full court.  He has now petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein to allow him leave to appeal, once again delaying his trial using public resources.

This matter is likely to be postponed to 2020, marking more than two years since the initial enrolment for trial in this matter. Following numerous postponements, without a single witness being called Mr Rodrigues exercises every avenue to avoid his day in court. This is convenient since Mr Rodrigues is not in custody and is out on bail of Two thousand Rands since his first court appearance on 30th July 2018.  

The costs for the state will only increase as Rodrigues has now appointed Hill McHardy and Herbst Inc. to act as his Bloemfontein attorneys representing him at the SCA hearings in Bloemfontein. The 4th Respondent in this matter, Timol’s nephew, Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee, is represented by the Pro Bono Department of Webber Wentzel and the Legal Resources Centre.  Counsel acts pro bono.  (Junior counsel and private investigators are paid modest fees at human rights rates supported by the Foundation for Human Rights). 


 Issued by Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee – Nephew of Ahmed Timol


26 June 2017                   

Re-Opening of the Timol Inquest

12 October 2017             

Ruling handed down and 1972 Verdict overturned

30 July 2018                     

Rodrigues charged and 1st court appearance in Johannesburg Magistrate Court

18 September 2018 

Rodrigues Court Appearance at South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg

15 October 2018             

Rodrigues Court Appearance at South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg

22 October 2018             

Rodrigues Court Appearance at South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg

20 November 2018         

Meeting in Chambers

28 January 2019              

Rodrigues Court Appearance at Palm Ridge Court, Germiston

28 & 29 March 2019               

Application for Permanent Stay of Prosecution (342A) Argued at South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg

31 May 2019                      

Judgment handed down at South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg

28 June 2019                    

Rodrigues Court Appearance at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg

02 August 2019 

Rodrigues Court Appearance at Palm Ridge Court, Germiston

18 September 2019

Application for leave to appeal, South Gauteng High Court dismissed

25 September 2019

Rodrigues Court Appearance at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg​ for Criminal Proceedings 

22 October 2019

Meeting in Chambers in Palm Ridge High Court