Former apartheid security police officer Joao Rodrigues has two weeks to appeal the High Court in Johannesburg’s decision to deny his application on the permanent stay of prosecution for the 1971 murder of apartheid activist Ahmed Timol.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said Rodrigues’ counsel has indicated that they will study the order before deciding whether to appeal.
Mjonondwane said this ruling has set a pace for similar matters.
“All-in-all, it’s a ruling that affirms the rule of law, it’s one that sends a message that one cannot bring an application to court citing age and citing delays,” she said.
She said the prosecution date on the matter would be determined by Rodrigues’ response.
Imtiaz Cajee, the nephew of Timol, said Monday’s judgment was not only victory to them but for all the other activists who died in detention.
“There’s a clear message that the full bench has sent today, that apartheid-era perpetrators can no longer use the excuse of time delay,” he said.
Timol died in 1971 after falling from the 10th floor of the then John Vorster Square police station in Johannesburg, where he had been detained.
The original inquest, which was held in 1972, concluded that Timol committed suicide with most of the evidence centred around Rodrigues’ testimony.
He said he saw Timol jump to his death and could not save him after he was tripped by a chair.
But in 2017, judge Billy Mothle ruled that Timol did not commit suicide. It was found that he was murdered.
Rodrigues was charged in July 2018.
Former Truth and Reconciliation Commission member and executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights Yasmin Sooka said the NPA should take action against politicians in government who led to delays in the prosecution of apartheid-era crimes.
“This judgment is a victory for justice and accountability for victims. I think the message to the perpetrators from our side, is that this judgment is a message to you. Come forward and make a full disclosure,” she said.
– African News Agency