Press Release by the Foundation for Human Rights and Webber Wentzel
08 July 2021
Joao Rodrigues, who has been accused of the murder of Ahmed Timol, has filed an application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court, against the order of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) handed down on the 21 June 2021. The SCA dismissed his appeal in relation to his application for a permanent stay of his prosecution for the murder of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol.
Joao Rodrigues’s has spent the last four years since his indictment for the murder of Ahmed Timol exercising his constitutional right to a fair trial in order to avoid having to face justice and accountability. The prospect of yet another appeal, which further delays the criminal trial, also results in frustrating the quest of the Timol family for justice and truth as to what really transpired in October 1971 on the 10th floor of the infamous John Vorster Square, where many activists paid the ultimate price. The reopened inquest of Ahmed Timol revealed the shocking truth that security branch members interrogated detainees by routinely applying electric shocks, assaults, sleep deprivation, waterboarding with fanatical zeal knowing that magistrates presiding over inquests would find no one to blame for deaths in police custody.
The historical ruling of Judge Billy Mothle in October 2017 that Timol had not committed suicide but that he had been murdered confirmed what families of victims have always known and endorses the shocking revelations at the TRC hearings by those who applied for amnesty. For the Timol family and the families of victims the historical ruling came with a promise that justice would be done in respect of the 300 cases referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for investigation and prosecution by the TRC.
The delay in the prosecution of Rodrigues by the NPA and the more than 20 postponements has left the criminal trial Judge Ramurumo Monama angered by the delays. Rodrigues and his legal team have been emboldened by the fact that their legal fees continue to be paid by the state while the families of victims receive no support whatsoever from the state and have to rely on the Foundation for Human Rights, pro bono counsel, Advocate Howard Varney and the pro bono department at Webber Wentzel for support.
A PAIA application brought by the nephew of Ahmed Timol, Imtiaz Cajee, revealed that Rodrigues’s legal team received more than R3,6 million rand of tax payers money by 2019 to delay his day of reckoning. This amount has most likely increased since then and with the new legal team appointed by Rodrigues, is likely to increase further.
The legal team on behalf of the Timol family submits that the further application to the Constitutional Court by Rodrigues amounts to a total waste of taxpayers’ funds and they intend to approach the State Attorney and Minister and Deputy Minister of Justice to demand that financially supporting further appeals amount to an abuse of public funds and should not be countenanced.
For more information on the “Unfinished Business of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission” Programme that is run by the Foundation for Human Rights consult our website: https://unfinishedtrc.co.za.
To view the application by Rodrigues click HERE.
For more information about the case contact:
For media enquiries contact:
Lindiwe Sibiya, Media and Communication Officer, FHR at firstname.lastname@example.org and 082 634 7154.