Timol case a crime against humanity ...
Publish date: 15 April 2019
Issue Number: 819
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa
Ahmed Timol was killed as a result of a system that committed acts of racial discrimination, mass violence and that murdered in the name of protecting minority interests. This makes this one of the most serious crimes that can be prosecuted in domestic and international law. The focus of the submission by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) – as amicus curiae – was to answer why it is not sufficient to prosecute former apartheid police officer Joao Rodrigues for the crime of murder and why it is necessary for domestic courts to recognise that this was not an ordinary murder – and that there is a legal basis to prosecute him for crimes against humanity. The SALC’s Atilla Kisla says in the matter of Rodrigues v NDPP and Others, a full Bench – Judge Seun Dimpheletse Moshidi, Judge Narandran Jody Kollapen and Judge Ingrid Opperman – was given a ‘precise legal analysis’ by SALC Advocates Salim Nakhjavani and Bonita Meyersfeld. They focused on an indictment for crimes against humanity with an emphasis on the crime of apartheid, highlighting the responsibility to prosecute such crimes in SA, and demonstrated how international law could guide the court in its decision-making process. Kisla says – in a summary of the SALC’s submissions on the Daily Maverick site – that the centre produced international jurisprudence and an extensive number of UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions which state that the crime of apartheid was a crime against humanity. It submitted arguments that the crime of ‘crimes against humanity’ was binding international law on SA by 1971. ‘This single case of murder – as well as the racial or political persecution combined with the systematic and widespread attack by the apartheid system – can therefore still amount to an indictment for crimes against humanity.’ Noting that the crime of apartheid has never been prosecuted before, Kisla says this case can ‘pave the way’ to prosecute the ‘atrocious’ crimes that were committed under the system of apartheid. He adds the Criminal Procedure Act ‘clearly’ states that there is no limit to when the prosecution of crimes against humanity has to start.