Johannesburg - Joao Roderiques's failure to block his alleged murder prosecution has boosted other victims of apartheid police brutality following an application lodged by former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) operative Thembi Nkadimeng's family.
At the South Gauteng High Court on Monday, Judge Seun Moshidi ruled that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) could go ahead and prosecute former apartheid cop Roderiques for allegedly being part of the brutal 1971 murder of activist Ahmed Timol.
Timol, who died a week before his 30th birthday, was thrown out of the 10th floor window at John Vorster Square, which has since been renamed Johannesburg Central police station.
Phindi Mjonondwane, spokesperson for the Gauteng NPA, said Roderiques would face charges of premeditated murder and defeating the ends of justice.
However, Imtiaz Cajee, Timol’s nephew who has waged a decades-long battle on behalf of the family to attain justice for his uncle, challenged the NPA to start taking the more than 300 cases stemming from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) seriously.
“The message is very clear. The newly appointed minister of justice (Ronald Lamola) and the new NDPP (national director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi) need to, with immediate urgency, start prioritising TRC cases.
“They cannot continue dragging their feet, and the victims’ families continue begging,” Cajee said.
Judge Moshidi also tore into the NPA in his judgment, saying it was “manifestly clear that political interference (from 2002 to 2017) materially affected the NPA to properly deal with TRC cases in that the resources that were necessary to conduct proper investigations weren't forthcoming”.
Roderiques had argued that the almost 50 years which had passed since Timol’s death, as well as his old age of 80 and memory loss, should allow for a permanent stay of prosecution.
But Judge Moshidi rejected this argument, saying the age and infirmity could be argued at the trial. Regarding the length of time passed since 1971, Judge Moshidi said Roderiques had participated in apartheid's “oppressive machinery, and allegedly sought to cover his wrongdoing.
“Surely Roderiques cannot now be seen to reap a benefit from such a state of affairs.”
Meanwhile, former MK operative Nkadimeng’s family have lodged a high court application to declare their daughter and sister dead, 35 years after she was kidnapped, tortured and disappeared.
According to TRC transcripts, Nkadimeng, who was a 23-year-old university graduate when she disappeared, suffered excruciating torture at the hands of apartheid police, including her nipples being attached to an electric shocker, and having a wet bag placed over her head to simulate drowning.
The case for her to be declared dead will be heard at the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday. There is a criminal case before the court into Nkadimeng’s ordeal on a range of charges involving a slew of apartheid operatives.