19 June 2019

South Africa: Roderigues Applies for Leave to Appeal Ahmed Timol Judgment

Apartheid-era cop Joao "Jan" Roderigues has applied for leave to appeal a judgment by the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg that dismissed his application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

In a notice on Wednesday, his legal team listed 11 reasons why it believed the court had misdirected itself when handing down the unanimous historic ruling earlier this month.

Roderigues' application was for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal, or alternatively a full bench of the high court.

He is accused of being involved in the murder of anti-apartheid activist and teacher Ahmed Timol.

He filed his application for a permanent stay of prosecution in 2018.

Timol died in 1971 after falling from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square, now called the Johannesburg Central police station.

At the time, an inquest found that he had committed suicide. This was after police officers, including Roderigues, who arrested and interrogated him, claimed that he had thrown himself out of the window.However, the ruling was overturned in 2017 after Timol's family disputed it. The inquest was reopened and Judge Bully Mothle found that Timol had been murdered.In his application for leave to appeal, Roderigues believed the court misdirected itself in a number of ways by, for example:

- Not granting a permanent stay of prosecution;

- Not finding that the criminal proceedings against him constituted an unfair trial and that instituting these proceedings after 47 years infringed his right to a trial that should begin and be concluded without unreasonable delay;

- Not finding that "the deliberate political interference at the highest political level in the criminal justice system did not infringe the fundamental right of a fair trial".

After the ruling was handed down, Timol's family said the law should take its course - not only for him, but for many other activists who died at the hands of apartheid-era police officers.

"My idea is that he still has an opportunity to make a full disclosure to the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] of what his role was, and who the people were who were actually responsible for the murder of Ahmed," his younger brother, Mohammed Timol, said at the time."

He still has the opportunity, which I think he should take because I don't think it's a nice thing to see an 80-year-old man going to jail for the rest of his life."


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