Former apartheid era security policeman, Joao “Jan” Roderigues, heads back to court today (Monday) to face charges relating to the 1971 murder of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol.
At his last court appearance, in September, Roderigues’ lawyers requested a postponement in order to prepare their argument for a permanent stay of prosecution. They hinted that they would argue that their client was too elderly (he is apparently 79-years-old), and the murder was perpetrated too long ago, for justice to be able to take its course.
An inquest into Timol’s death in October 1971 was held in 1972. The presiding apartheid magistrate upheld Roderigues’ version that Timol committed suicide by jumping through a 10th floor window during a break in his interrogation. But after the Timol family was able to place new evidence before a re-opened inquest last year, Mr Justice Billy Mothle recommended that prosecutors re-consider Roderigues role in Timol’s murder.
The judge also recommended that prosecutors consider the roles of two other former security policemen who gave evidence at the re-opened inquest – Neville Els and Seth Sons – in the interrogation and torture of detainees. Roderigues is the first of the three to be brought to court.
Roderigues pre-trial hearing will be heard by Judge Monama at 10H00 in Room 2B at the South Gauteng High Court.
The Timol family has stated that if he tells the truth at his trial it will support Roderigues receiving a non-custodial sentence.
* Timol was the 22nd of at least 73 anti-apartheid activist to die in police detention between 1963 and 1990. Last month, the National Prosecutions Authority signalled its intention to re-open a second inquest, that into the death in detention of Pietermaritzburg dentist, Dr Hoosen Haffejee. The families of other detainees who died in detention – including Nicodemus Kgoathe, Solly Modipane and Jacob Monnakgotla, Imam Haron and Mathew Mabelane – continue to long for justice.
** On Sunday 14 October 2018 at 19H30, SABC3 will broadcast the new documentary: SOMEONE TO BLAME - THE AHMED TIMOL INQUEST.
* This statement was distributed for the Ahmed Timol Family Trust by Oryx Media (Benny Gool 082 5566 556 / Roger Friedman 079 8966 899).