By Anees Teladia
In a widely welcomed decision, Ahmed Timol’s alleged murderer, Apartheid-era police officer, Joao Rodrigues will stand trial for charges laid against him. This comes after Rodrigues’ application for a permanent stay of prosecution was dismissed yesterday by Judge Seun Moshidi at the Johannesburg High Court. The trial of Rodrigues is set to commence on June 28 this year.
The late Ahmed Timol’s nephew, Imtiaz Cajee told VOC that that the family “had no doubt” that justice would prevail and that Rodrigues would not be granted a permanent stay of prosecution.
“We’ve been cautiously optimistic. The almighty is always on our side because what we are fighting for is truth and justice,” said Cajee.
“We’ve had no doubt that Rodrigues would have no chance of being granted a permanent stay of prosecution…He must be held accountable for his actions that led to the murder of our beloved uncle.”
Rodrigues has suggested that due to his age and memory loss, a trial would be prejudiced against him and accordingly be unjust.
Cajee, however, argues that Rodrigues is clinging to any weak excuses he can contrive, to avoid justice and truth.
“He’s making a very lame excuse. The facts are very simple,” said Cajee.
“He [Rodrigues] claimed that he was left alone in the room with my uncle [and that] my uncle was free of any injuries. When he [Timol] supposedly darted across the table jumping out of the window, Rodrigues attempted to save him… That’s Rodrigues’ version of events which he repeated at the 2017 inquest – when it was ruled that Rodrigues was an untruthful witness.”
“Even now, when he seeks a permanent stay of prosecution, he’s telling the same story. The memory loss can’t affect him when he tells a consistent version from 1971.”
“Forensic and trajectory specialists say my uncle could not have jumped through the window. The marks inflicted on his body clearly depict that he was brutally tortured. The other community members that were detained with uncle Ahmed – who were not even part of the cell – were all severely tortured…[but] here’s the man who was the leader [Ahmed Timol], yet police claim that they never laid a finger on him. That is what Rodrigues is speaking to.”
Cajee has indicated that the Timol family is asking that the Minister of Justice and the head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) intervene and ensure justice is not delayed and denied.
“We are asking the newly appointed Minister of Justice and the newly appointed head of the NPA to intervene. They have to intervene,” said Cajee.
“If this is the conduct in a high-profile case such as Timol’s, then what about all the others?”
Addressing some criticisms of the family’s continued pursuit of Rodrigues for the murder of Ahmed Timol, Cajee explained that it is not simply a matter of Justice for Ahmed Timol and the Timol family.
“I’m often asked the question, ‘why do you continue pursuing this particular matter?’.”
“This has nothing to do with only the killing of Ahmed Timol. You need to speak to other victims’ families….you need to know the pain that people in those families continue going through until today…to understand the pain of children and people that have been suffering for years on end. Finally, they have some glimmer of hope within the Timol matter.”
“But if there’s no intervention, the reality will be that victims’ families will pass on, perpetrators will pass on, critical witnesses will pass on and that will mean these cases will disappear and be forgotten,” explained Cajee.