Former apartheid security policeman in court for Ahmed Timol’s ‘suicide’
A former policeman implicated in the murder of activist Ahmed Timol 47 years ago will appear in court on Monday, in what could be the first prosecution of apartheid-era crimes for which the people involved were not granted amnesty.
Should the state win the case, 80-year-old Joao Anastacio “Jan” Roderiques will become the first person to be prosecuted out of the 300 cases that were either refused amnesty or did not bother to apply during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings nearly two decades ago. These cases were subsequently recommended for further investigation and possibly prosecution.
A warrant of arrest for defeating the ends of justice has been issued for former security police sergeant Roderiques for his role in Timol’s death in October 1971, according to the Justice and Accountability Network.
Roderiques is expected to appear before the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said on her Twitter account on Sunday.
Roderiques pleaded innocent during the inquest hearings conducted in 2017 and during the first one 46 years earlier.
During both inquests, he claimed to have seen Timol committing suicide by jumping from the 10th floor of security branch headquarters in Johannesburg in October 1971.
In 2017, Judge Billy Mothle, presiding over a reopened inquest, rejected the evidence and ordered that Roderiques’s role in Timol’s death be investigated anew.
Imtiaz Cajee, Timol’s nephew, told Business Day on Sunday there was empirical evidence that his uncle, an underground operative of the South African Communist Party, was murdered at the then John Vorster Square.
Cajee said that while there was “no pleasure” derived from seeing the octogenarian and former security branch policeman being hauled in front of the courts in a democratic SA, Roderiques must face “the full wrath of the law” if answers were not forthcoming.
“If that is the way that we need to move forward and get answers and closure, so let it be,” Cajee said.