Timol murder case: Trial of former apartheid cop postponed to next year

2018-10-22 16:08
Former security branch police sergeant Joao Jan Rodrigues is seen during his appearance at the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court in relation to the murder of slain activist Ahmed Timol. (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Netwerk24, file)

Former security branch police sergeant Joao Jan Rodrigues is seen during his appearance at the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court in relation to the murder of slain activist Ahmed Timol. (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Netwerk24, file)

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The case against Joao Rodrigues, the former security branch policeman accused of murdering anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol, was postponed on Monday and will be heard next year.

The case was postponed last week to allow Rodrigues' legal team to prepare an application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

Judge Ramarumo Monama ruled on Monday that the application for a permanent stay of prosecution, an interlocutory application, would be dealt with before the main trial begins.

The trial itself will commence on January 28, 2019.

The application for a permanent stay of prosecution would be heard in chambers for now, unless it became necessary for it to be heard in open court, Monama ruled.

He said it was critical that the trial be heard as soon as possible, and said the court would sit during its normal end-of-year recess if necessary, so that the trial can begin as scheduled in January.

Monama previously said the case was now 47 years old and "needs to be attended to as quickly as possible".

Last year, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria found that Timol did not commit suicide, as previously found, but was pushed to his death by members of the security branch.

An inquest in 1972 found that Timol committed suicide, but the High Court recently overturned this finding.

Timol was one of 73 activists who died in police custody between 1963 and 1990. All these deaths were described as accidents or suicides, according to the Ahmed Timol Family Trust.

The Timol family says Rodrigues will likely argue that he should not be prosecuted based on his age and based on the amount of time that has passed since Timol died.

Rodrigues is 79 years old.

In a statement, the family has said that how the court responds to this argument will have far-reaching implications for other apartheid police and security forces who committed crimes and either chose not to apply for amnesty at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or applied for amnesty but had their applications declined.

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Read more on:    ahmed timol  |  apartheid  |  human rights  |  crime  |  courts
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