PRESS STATEMENT | Ahmed Timol murder-accused to appear in court

Date: 05/11/2020

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) will be representing the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) who will be appearing as amicus curiae on 6 November 2020 at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in the case of Joao Rodrigues v National Director of Public Prosecutions and Others. Joao Rodrigues (Rodrigues), the Appellant, is a former member of the Security Branch under the apartheid regime and is accused of having murdered Ahmed Timol (Mr. Timol) on 27 October 1971. Rodrigues seeks a permanent stay of prosecution based on an alleged violation of his constitutional rights under section 35 of the Constitution and an alleged amnesty agreement that supposedly prevents prosecution of the Appellant. SALC was admitted by the SCA to make submissions in this matter as a friend of the court (amicus curiae).

SALC promotes and advances human rights and the rule of law in southern Africa, primarily through strategic litigation support and capacity building. In this matter, SALC’s submissions centre on the following:

  • The killing of Mr Timol amounts to at least three categories of crimes against humanity;
  • South Africa has a duty to investigate and prosecute crimes against humanity and that the lapse of time before prosecution cannot, in itself, violate a right to a fair trial;
  • The alleged amnesty qualifies as blanket amnesty and may not be recognised or applied in respect of crimes against humanity.

In 1972, Mr. Timol was alleged to have committed suicide by jumping from the 10th floor of the John Vorster Police Station where he was being detained. Subsequent investigations into his death reopened in 2017 by the Gauteng Local Division of the High Court which found that the death of Mr. Timol was covered up and that he was pushed or made to jump, while with members of the Security Branch. It was recommended by the High Court, that Rodrigues should be investigated with the view of prosecuting him.

An indictment was issued against Rodrigues in July 2018 by the National Prosecuting Authority. The Gauteng Local Division of the High Court dismissed Rodrigues’ application for a permanent stay of prosecution, after he was charged with murder and defeating and/or obstructing the administration of justice.

This matter is important in ensuring proper prosecution for crimes committed during apartheid and that justice is achieved for families affected by these heinous acts. The SCA hearing will be conducted as an online hearing. SALC is represented by Advocates Salim Nakhjavani, Bonita Meyersfeld and Lawyers for Human Rights.


Wayne Ncube

Telephone: +27 (0) 11 3391960

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