After seventeen years of actively seeking justice for the murder of Ahmed Timol, the Timol family might eventually find some peace. They first bought the case to the attention of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in 2002, but the NPA failed to investigate the matter. Eventually, in October 2017, the North Gauteng High Court officially recognised that Timol had been murdered by Security Branch police, ruling that Joao Rodrigues, the policeman present when Timol died, was an accomplice after the fact to murder.
Rodrigues, now 80 years old, has been arguing for a permanent stay of prosecution because of his age, but this week the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg dismissed Rodrigues’s application stating that his argument of age held no water, but that it would be a factor considered during the trial and sentencing.
The case of Ahmed Timol, along with countless others, is detailed in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, published 21 years ago. At the time the commission found that:
The SAP, and in particular Colonel Greyling, Captian Bean, Sergeant Rodrigues, Warrant Officer Cloete, Sergeants FJ Ferreira, MC Pelser and DL Carter were directly responsible for the death of Mr Ahmed Timol”
And yet, despite the commission’s findings, nothing was done about the murder of Ahmed Timol for nearly two decades. This week’s ruling by the High Court has encouraged other relatives of victims of apartheid police brutality to come forward. Like Timol, many of these cases have already been investigated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), but with no further action having been taken.
According to Imtiaz Cajee, Timol’s nephew, who pursued his uncle’s case on behalf of the family, as many as 300 of the cases heard by the TRC should be prosecuted by the NPA. Cajee has called on the Minister of Justice to intervene and fast track all cases related to the TRC.
As we wait for a trial date to finally be set for the murder of Ahmed Timol, it will be interesting to see how many other victims of apartheid will finally get to see justice served.