Ahmed Timol case postponed pending supreme court verdict

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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.
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
  • Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol died after falling from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square police station in 1971. 
  • A 1972 inquest ruled his death a suicide, but a 2017 inquest by Judge Billy Mothle ruled otherwise.
  • In 2018 Joao Rodrigues, a former apartheid security branch officer, was charged with Timol's murder.

The murder case against former apartheid security branch officer, Joao Rodrigues, who is accused of murdering anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Timol 50 years ago has been postponed pending a decision by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The matter was back in court on Tuesday, but could not continue as the SCA had not handed down its verdict on Rodrigues's application for leave to appeal the dismissal of a permanent stay of prosecution application by the Gauteng High Court in 2019.

Rodrigues, 81, was charged with Timol's murder in 2018 after a second inquest ruled that Timol's death was not suicide.

Ahmed Timol
An old photo of Ahmed Timol.

Timol died in 1971 after falling from the 10th floor of the then John Vorster Square police station, now known as the Johannesburg central police station, where he had been detained.

READ | SCA to hear application over Ahmed Timol case

At the time of Timol's death, Rodrigues worked as a security branch officer. The inquest, led by Judge Billy Mothle, recommended that Rodrigues be investigated for perjury.

During the inquest, Rodrigues' lawyers argued that the delay in the case was deliberately caused by the state and questioned the "improper" decision to charge Rodrigues with murder despite that not being a recommendation of the inquest. 

READ | NPA not pursuing charges against security branch officers in Timol case

In response, the State said it was the function of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), not that of the inquest, to decide how Rodrigues must be charged. 

The matter is due back in court on 8 April, however, it is unclear whether it will be able to proceed as the SCA had previously reserved judgment on the application before it.

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