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Timol family react to death of João Rodrigues

Joao Rodrigues at the high court in Pretoria during the Ahmed Timol inquest. File Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Joao Rodrigues at the high court in Pretoria during the Ahmed Timol inquest. File Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Published Sep 8, 2021


The family of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol, who died in police detention in October 1971, say they are angry to hear that former apartheid policeman João Rodrigues has died without being held accountable for his role in the murder of Timol.

Rodrigues died without disclosing his secrets about exactly how Timol died nearly 50 years ago.

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According to reports, he died at his Wonderboom South home in Pretoria around midnight on Monday due to ill health.

“It fills me with anger to hear that Rodrigues had died without him having his criminal trial commencing. Remember the verdict was issued on 12 October 2017. In the next month we are approaching four years, and his first court appearance was on 30 July 2018. He subsequently had 19 court appearances, he also took his matter to a full bench of the South Gauteng High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. They dismissed his application for a permanent stay of prosecution,” Imitiaz Cajee said.

“The reality is that he (Rodrigues) is going to his grave without being held accountable for his role in the murder of my uncle. This raises a whole range of questions that the government needs to answer, specifically the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) and the Justice Minister.

“The question that needs to be asked (is), does this government look after the interest of apartheid perpetrators or do they look after the interest of victims of apartheid crimes? The impression created is that the likes of Rodrigues have simply got away without being held accountable for their roles.”

Cajee added that if one looked at the inquest into the death of Dr Hoosen Mia Haffejee, currently being heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, the government had waited for the senior interrogator Jimmy Taylor to pass on before they announced the Haffejee inquest.

He also said in the matter of anti-aprtheid activist Nokuthula Simelane, which has been in court since 2013, the criminal trial to date had not started and a number of the accused had already died.

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“These cannot be coincidences that can simply be overlooked. In our view, as families of the apartheid-era victims, it only reaffirms the view that there is absolutely no political will to ensure that these matters are investigated and prosecuted timeously.

“The facts speak for themselves that we are being failed by the government. It is very important to reiterate that I personally reached out to Rodrigues on numerous occasions for him to come clean, to make a full honest disclosure to share the true events that unfolded at John Vorster Square Police Station pertaining to my uncle’s death, and he was not forthcoming.”

“When we reach out to perpetrators it is not a sign of weakness on our part. It is a sign of genuine commitment on our part as victims to say ’let us find each other, let us find closure, let us help one another to have genuine reconciliation’.

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“The reality is that we as victims continue to reach out and we get absolutely nothing in return. That is a painful reality,” Cajee said.

Mohammed Timol said Rodigues had gone to his grave with secrets and the family didn’t have closure because he was part of Ahmed Timol’s murder.

“If the trial took place, probably there would have been more revelations, but all that we know is that he was murdered by security police. From the first day of his arrest, only Rodrigues and others who he was also with who have also died could have revealed the truth.

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“The other two security police men who are still alive who were subpoenaed to give testimony at the Ahmed Timol inquest simply said they can’t remember and that was their line of response throughout the examination. Those two are still alive but they were not charged.

“The NPA did not charge them for perjury. He (Rodrigues) is going to the grave with the sins and crimes that he has committed. Let us pray that in another life he will pay for it. My mother when she was still alive said if we do not get the truth when he is still alive, we will get the truth in heaven,” said Timol.

Rodrigues admitted that he was the last person to see Timol alive after he was interrogated by the apartheid-era secret police.

However, he maintained that Timol was healthy and fine when he saw him and that Timol suddenly ran to the window and jumped.

Political Bureau

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Crime and courts