Ahmed Timol murder accused to argue against prosecution

Apartheid cop Joao Rodrigues has been charged with the murder of activist Ahmed Timol.
Apartheid cop Joao Rodrigues has been charged with the murder of activist Ahmed Timol.
Image: ALON SKUY

Former security branch policeman João “Jan” Rodrigues‚ implicated in the murder of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol in 1971‚ will on Monday argue he should not be prosecuted.

The Ahmed Timol Foundation said lawyers representing Rodrigues would explain to the South Gauteng High Court why their client should not be prosecuted for the death nearly 47 years ago.

The foundation said Rodrigues was expected to argue that he should be let go on the basis of his age‚ 79‚ and the amount of time that had passed since the death of Timol.

The court’s response will have implications beyond Rodrigues. Other former members of the apartheid-era security forces who perpetrated grievous crimes did not approach the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for amnesty or had their amnesty applications declined.

The TRC‚ in its final report published in 1999‚ recommended 300 cases for further investigation.

The charging of Rodrigues follows last year's reopening of the inquest into Timol's death. He fell from the 10th floor of the then John Vorster Square police station in Johannesburg.

The original inquest in 1972 concluded that Timol had committed suicide and that no person alive was responsible for his death.

However‚ his family obtained further evidence and approached the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for the inquest to be reopened.

In the reopened inquest‚ Judge Billy Mothle found that Timol’s death was caused by him being pushed from the 10th floor of the building.

Mothle said Rodrigues‚ according to his own version‚ had participated in a cover-up to conceal the crime of murder as an accessory after the fact. Mothle said Rodrigues went on to commit perjury by presenting contradictory evidence before the 1972 and 2017 inquests.

“He should accordingly be investigated with a view to his prosecution‚” Judge Mothle said.

Timol was one of 73 activists who died in police custody between 1963 and 1990. Police at the time ascribed all the deaths to suicide or accidents. Timol’s inquest was the first of these cases to be re-opened by the state.

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