Rodrigues returns to court in 2021


Rodrigues returns to court in 2021


João ‘Jan’ Anastacio Rodrigues: Courtesy of

João ‘Jan’ Anastacio Rodrigues who is facing murder charges for his role in the death of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol in October 1971, returns to court on Tuesday, (DETAILS AWAITED) before Monama J.

This matter is expected to be postponed yet again pending the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein. Judgment was reserved after a virtual hearing heard Rodrigues’s 342A application on Friday, 06 November 2020. (High Court & SCA Papers here).

The main points of arguments of the legal team of Rodrigues included inter alia the existence of secret amnesty granted to perpetrators or alleged perpetrators of unlawful conduct of a political nature alternatively that there was an agreement with the authorities to the effect that no prosecutions would be instituted for political offences of this nature. It was also argued that the late filing of opposing affidavits for the first and second respondents, namely the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) and Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, ought to be construed as improper conduct.

A 342 (A) application made to the Full Bench of the South Gauteng High Court was dismissed on 31 May 2019. The judgment was scathing on the conduct of the National Prosecution Authority. (Read judgment here).

Rodrigues was charged on 30 July 2018 and has made numerous court appearances since (See timeline below). His criminal trial is yet to commence.

A Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) Application was submitted by Timol’s nephew, 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 . It revealed in a response dated 15 November 2019 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 spent thus far on the costs of legal representation for Roderigues. 

This covers the inquest, criminal remands and the stay of prosecution. It must be noted that the criminal trial of Rodrigues has not even started yet. Remarkably, the DOJ&CD have refused 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. In private practise, he now represents Rodrigues. (Read his response here).

More than three years (12 October 2017) have lapsed since Judge Billy Mothle overruled a 1972 inquest finding that Ahmed Timol had committed suicide by jumping to his death from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square Police Station (renamed Johannesburg Central Police Station). Judge Mothle in his historic overturning of the decision of the original inquest court also referred the conduct of two other special branch members identified at the inquest as Neville Els and Seth Sons to the NPA for their decision.

On 21 May 2020, Adv G.D. Baloyi, the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Gauteng Division, Pretoria declined to prosecute both Els and Sons.

Police records showed that Els, a warrant officer, was one of the police interrogators on duty the night in 1971 that another detainee, Kantilal Naik, was tortured using the “helicopter method”. The “helicopter method” involved forcing someone to crouch, placing a wooden pole behind their knees and handcuffing their wrists and ankles to the pole before suspending them upside down as the pole is balanced between two tables. 

Five former political detainees submitted affidavits after Sons’ 2017 court appearance detailing assaults they suffered at his hands or by members of his team while he was present. Sons retired from the police with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was one of the highest-ranking non-white policemen and oversaw his own team of non-white police officers in the Security Branch. He was called the “master torturer” by some of his victims.  

The legal firm Webber Wentzel representing Imtiaz Cajee, nephew of Ahmed Timol and the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) on 22 June 2020 made representation to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to reverse their decision to not prosecute Neville Els and Seth Sons for perjury committed in their testimony during the reopened Ahmed Timol inquest in 2017. The NPA is yet to respond. It had taken the NPA more than 30 months (2.5 years) to make this decision after persistent correspondence from Cajee to various officials at the NPA.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the murder of Ahmed Timol, a digital exhibition will be launched during the year paying tribute to this unsung hero and martyr.


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 2019         

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

12 December 2019

Provisional Criminal Trial Case

28 February 2020

Rodrigues Court Appearance at the South Gauteng High Court

28 May 2020

Rodrigues Court Appearance at the South Gauteng High Court

31 July 2020

Rodrigues Court Appearance at the South Gauteng High Court

 29 October 2020

Rodrigues did not attend proceedings at Palmridge High Court. Order of Arrest held over

06 November 2020

SCA hears matter in Bloemfontein: High Court & SCA Papers:

Repeat Broadcast: Rodrigues at SCA & Media Coverage

07 December 2020

Rodrigues Court Appearance at the Palmridge High Court. Warrant of arrest cancelled and bail extended

16 February 2021

Next court appearance

Aggett’s f