The unfinished business of the TRC


New Frame

16 Nov 2020

The ANC said it would hold those guilty of crimes against humanity to account – but is mum on those involved in political interference in Truth and Reconciliation Commission prosecutions.

11 November 1997: From left, Truth and Reconciliation Commission deputy chairperson Alec Boraine and chairperson Archbishop Desmond Tutu. (Photograph by Gallo Images/ Business Day/ Lori Waselchuk)


The ANC has broken its 17-year official silence on Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) prosecutions and committed to getting justice for victims’ families. There also have been calls for the government to address the often-ignored issue of reparations for victims of apartheid. 

On 6 November 2020, the Supreme Court of Appeal heard the application of former apartheid security police clerk João Rodrigues to have the case of murder against him dismissed. Rodrigues is implicated in the death of activist and teacher Ahmed Timol in 1971. 

In 2017, Judge Billy Mothle, who presided over the reopened inquest into Timol’s death, recommended the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) prosecute Rodrigues. The decision was appealed and dismissed in 2019. This month, his lawyers argued that the 47 years between the death of Timol and the prosecution of their client in 2018 have prejudiced Rodrigues’ constitutional right to a fair trial. They also argued that the political interference into the prosecution of TRC cases has prejudiced the octogenarian.