Joao Rodrigues will make another court appearance on Friday, 28 February 2020 in Court Room 6F at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg at 10:00 for his role in the murder of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol who was killed on 27 October 1971 at John Vorster Square Police Station (renamed Johannesburg central Police Station). Timol was the 22nd person to have died in police detention.
A 1972 inquest ruling that Timol had committed suicide was reversed in 2017 when Judge Billy Mothle found that Timol did not commit suicide, but was killed in police detention. Security Branch Officers Rodrigues, Neville Els and Seth Sons were to be investigated for their role in the murder of Timol.
Cases were opened against Els and Sons in October 2017. Confirmation that the investigation is completed is yet to be received from the NPA, two and half years later.
Rodrigues has made numerous court appearances since October 2017. In March 2019, his legal team lodged an application for a permanent stay of prosecution to a full bench of the South Gauteng High Court. This application was dismissed on 31 May and the court was scathing in its judgment on the conduct of the NPA:
At paragraph 65 it held that “it is also for these reasons that conduct of the relevant officials and others outside of the NPA at the time must be brought to the attention of the National Director of Public Prosecutions for her consideration and in particular to consider whether any action in terms of Section 41(1) of the NPA Act is warranted.
Finally, there must be public assurance from both the Executive and the NPA that the kind of political interference that occurred in the TRC cases will never occur again. In this regard, they should indicate the measures, including checks and balances, which will be put in place to prevent a recurrence of these unacceptable breaches of the Constitution.
To date, there has been no response from the Executive and NPA on the above judgment. The NPA has provided no road map with time frames on how it intends to address the more than 300 TRC cases.
The court proceedings are expected to be postponed again as Rodrigues’s legal team have petitioned the SCA in Bloemfontein to appeal the ruling of the full bench of the South Gauteng High Court on 03 June 2019 that dismissed his application for a permanent stay of prosecution for his role in the murder of Ahmed Timol. Applicants in the matter are expected to file their arguments on / before 27 February 2020 and appeal records are to be lodged on 28 April 2020. A date will then be set for arguments to be heard on this matter.
Issued by the Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee – Nephew of Ahmed Timol