Former apartheid police officer Joao Rodrigues. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
By Zelda Venter 20h ago (13 July 2021)
Pretoria – The past of former apartheid-era policeman Joao Rodrigues is catching up with him.
Rodrigues, who is pinning his hope on the Constitutional Court for a stay of prosecution for Ahmed Timol’s alleged murder, has since admitted to sexually assaulting his daughter over a number of years.
The 82-year-old earlier admitted guilt in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court to indecently assaulting his third child, Tilana Stander, now 59, when she was a child.
According to Stander, who instituted the charges against her estranged father in 2019, the sexual assaults on her lasted for about four years – from the age of 10 until she was 14.
In a letter handed to the court, Rodrigues apologised for his deeds and said he could not remember the details as she could.
“It is with shame that I read the statements you have made. I cannot differ from you and I don’t want to say I am not guilty,” he wrote.
The letter served as part of an alternative dispute resolution between him, his daughter and the State, whereby the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) withdrew the charge against him as part of a mediation process.
This was done with the consent of Stander, who only wanted her father to publicly admit what he had done. She also wanted her family to know that she had always spoken the truth about what happened to her; they never believed her over the years.
The affidavit read out in court as part of the proceedings by counsel for Rodrigues, portrays him as a God-fearing man – he acknowledged the wrong done to his daughter who was a minor at the time.
Rodrigues tool full responsibility for his actions and pleaded for an opportunity to rectify matters with his daughter, expressing his love for her.
Stander, however, made it clear that there would be no family reconciliation.
In her 17-page affidavit, Stander described in detail what her father had done to her. The first time, she said, he took her to his bedroom, locked the door and undressed himself. He told her to do the same.
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She spoke of her fear then and over the years, and how she had no choice but to live at home while she was at school.
She said the minute she finished school, she left home.
Stander, who is now happily married and living in the Western Cape, also described how she often hid in the backyard from his father and that she was a very lonely child.
In his message to her, Rodrigues said “the Big Judge (God) directed him to make right of the indescribable mess he had made.” He said all he could do was ask forgiveness as he could not undo the wrong towards her and his family.
Imziat Cajee, Timol’s nephew, meanwhile said Stander was instrumental in handing over her father in June 2017. This led to Rodrigues being subpoenaed and testifying at the reopened Timol inquest.
The NPA and the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation could not locate him at the time.
Cajee frowned upon the fact that the NPA had withdrawn the sexual charges against Rodrigues.