If police sergeant is guilty, he 'must face full might of the law' - Timol's nephew

Former security branch officer sergeant Joao Jan Rodrigues. (Amanda Khoza, News24)
Former security branch officer sergeant Joao Jan Rodrigues. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Johannesburg – The nephew of anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Timol, said if the North Gauteng High Court found that former security branch police sergeant Joao Jan Rodrigues fabricated evidence, then he should face the full might of the law.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Ahmed Timol inquest on Wednesday, Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee said the family has always been optimistic that the truth would prevail and that the perpetrators would come clean.

“Our council advocate Howard Varney reminded sergeant Rodrigues that it is in his interest to tell the truth because the family wants answers and was looking for closure.

“This is the perfect platform, 46 years after the death of my uncle, for [Rodrigues] to come clean and make a full revelation.”

Cajee said all the evidence that had been presented before Judge Billy Mothle made it obvious to believe that Rodrigues was the “fall guy”.

“He was the last person in the room with uncle Ahmed and he had clearly demonstrated that he was influenced to change his statement. He claims that there were death threats and there is a commendation letter as well, his story just does not make sense.”

Not seeking vengeance

Cajee said the family would not show sympathy if it is found that Rodrigues lied to the court because he had been given ample time to come clean from day one of the court proceedings.

“Judge Mothle reminded him before he testified on Monday (that at the end of the proceedings he will have to make a decision and that if found that he played a role in Timol’s death, he was at risk of being prosecuted).

“Advocate Varney reminded him again on Tuesday (that this was a truth seeking activity and that the Timol family was not seeking vengeance).

“On Wednesday, during cross examination, Judge Mothle reminded him for the third time again that it was in his interest to tell the truth. But it is very evident from his posture and evidence that he remains arrogant and sticks to his particular version.

“We have no doubt that he must face the full might of the law,” said Cajee.  

On Wednesday, Varney said he would be asking the North Gauteng High Court to recommend that criminal charges be brought against Rodrigues.

'I am not guilty'

Varney said, “We will first put to this court that you collaborated with the security branch to cover up various crimes.

“Firstly, the torture and the repeated grievous assault with intent to do harm to Mr Timol as well as his murder. Should it be demonstrated that you colluded with the security branch to set up the fall of Mr Timol, you should be held responsible with the crime of murder.

“We will be submitting to this honourable court that it recommend to the National Prosecuting Authority that you be charged with perjury, accessory after the fact to the murder of Timol, alternatively to the murder of Ahmed Timol,” said Varney.

When asked if he understood, Rodrigues said, “I do not agree with the council’s submission, I am not guilty”.

Both Varney and NPA’s Torie Pretorius stopped short of calling Rodrigues a liar, saying he had fabricated a false version of what had happened.

Mothle was also critical of Rodrigues’ testimony saying there were inconsistencies in what he told the inquest in 1972 and what he had told the court now.

“There is evidence before me that suggests that the information you gave at the inquest in 1972, which you repeated here, does not accord with the evidence I have received...” said Mothle.

The hearings continue on Thursday and former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils is expected to testify.  

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