JOAO RODERIQUES
THE people of South Africa and families of the victims of apartheid would be denied the right to justice and to know what happened to their loved ones if the court granted Joao Roderiques a stay of prosecution.

He was the last person to have seen Ahmed Timol alive in 1971 at the then notorious John Vorster Square in Joburg. This is according to acting special director of priority crimes at the National Prosecuting Authority, advocate Torie Pretorius. He will oppose Roderiques’s application today before the Gauteng High Court in Joburg for the NPA to permanently stay his prosecution.

The family of Dr Hoosen Haffejee and of Matthews Mabelane, meanwhile, will ask the court to join as respondents in Roderiques's application. Both voiced their fear that if his application was successful, all the other families of apartheid-era victims would be deprived of knowing the truth about what happened to their loved ones.

Former security police officer Roderiques appeared previously in the high court regarding the murder of Timol in October 1971. The 80-year-old want the charges dropped as he claimed his prosecution was unfair due to the delay of more than 47 years in charging him, his ailing memory and ill health.

During the reopening of the Timol inquest last year, Judge Billy Mothle ruled that Timol was murdered and recommended to the NPA that Roderiques's role in Timol's death be investigated.

Roderiques last appeared in the high court in October, and the case was postponed to January 28. Judge Ramarumo Monama is due to deal with his application for a stay of prosecution today.

Johannes Mabelane, brother of Matthews, who also died in custody at John Vorster Square in February 1977, has filed an affidavit supporting the NPA's challenge against Roderiques's permanent stay of prosecution bid.

Judge Mothle ruled that Timol did not commit suicide and was murdered by being pushed out of a window at John Vorster Square. Mabelane said his brother was also said to have accidentally fallen from the 10th storey of the building, but he was convinced that he was thrown out of the window.

"The deaths of Timol and (Matthews) Mabelane are disturbingly similar.”