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More apartheid police officers to be charged – NPA

Publish date: 06 August 2018
Issue Number: 785
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa

More apartheid-era police officers could be charged and prosecuted for murders of several political activists. The National Prosecuting Authority said it was looking into other unsolved cases committed under apartheid after retired Sergeant Joao Rodrigues (79) last week made his first court appearance for the 1971 murder of Ahmed Timol. A Cape Times report notes the Timol case has been hailed as historical because it dispelled claims by the apartheid regime that some activists committed suicide at its police stations. Judge Billy Mothle ruled in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) last year that Timol was killed by members of the security branch and did not commit suicide by jumping from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square 46 years ago. He recommended the prosecution of Rodrigues, who, according to the judge, ‘on his own version, participated in the cover-up to conceal the crime of murder as an accessory after the fact, and went on to commit perjury by presenting contradictory evidence before the 1972 and 2017 inquests. He should accordingly be investigated with a view to his prosecution'. Rodrigues applied for bail at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court. Magistrate Carlo Labuschagne set his bail at R2 000 and transferred the matter to the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg). Phindi Mjonondwane, the NPA’s Gauteng spokesperson, told journalists more apartheid-era crimes were being probed. ‘We confirm ... that this has brought so many other cases to life. Investigations are ongoing,’ she said. ‘(There is a) possibility of more arrests in other matters where anti-apartheid activists were taken through atrocities and brutalised.’

Full Cape Times report (subscription needed)

Rodrigues is planning to plead not guilty. In an affidavit, Rodrigues said: ‘I intend to plead not guilty to the charges against me.’ Rodrigues said that a judge handling inquest proceedings had found him not to have been present when Timol fell to his death from a police building, according to a TimesLIVE report. He told the court that he would not attempt to evade trial‚ endanger the public nor influence any witnesses. ‘I will not do anything that will undermine the proper functioning of the criminal justice system.’ Rodrigues‚ whose lawyer said he was aged 79‚ handed himself over to the police on Sunday last week. His counsel told the court that he was suffering from ailments related to old age. He had recently undergone a foot operation‚ the court was told. Rodrigues was a member of the security branch administration and was allegedly the last known person to have seen Timol alive.

Full TimesLIVE report