Rodrigues to stand trial for Timol's murder

Apartheid cop Joao Rodrigues, charged with the murder of activist Ahmed Timol, will stand trial.
Apartheid cop Joao Rodrigues, charged with the murder of activist Ahmed Timol, will stand trial.
Image: ALON SKUY

Former apartheid security police officer Joao Rodrigues will stand trial for killing anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol. 

A full bench at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Monday dismissed Rodrigues' application for a permanent stay of prosecution that he made late last year. Arguments were heard on March 28 and 29.

Imtiaz Cajee, Timol’s nephew, told the media moments after judgment was handed down that he was excited and humbled as the family would be able to get closure.

“This is a clear message to former apartheid-era policemen that crimes committed during those times won’t be swept under the carpet. But in the same breath it gives hope to families of victims that they will one day get closure on the deaths of their loved ones,” Cajee said. 

The original inquest, which was held in 1972, concluded that Timol committed suicide. Most of the evidence was centred around Rodrigues’s testimony. Rodrigues claimed at the time that he saw Timol jump out of a window, but he couldn’t save him because he tripped over a chair.

The matter was revisited decades later when judge Billy Mothle ruled in 2017 that Timol was murdered, leading to Rodrigues being charged in July 2018.

A legal representative maintains it would be unfair to put Rodrigues on trial because the two policemen who left him with Timol in the room from where he plunged to his death were dead and therefore can’t testify.

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