Joao Rodrigues granted bail after appearing in court over Ahmed Timol’s death
The former apartheid-era policeman also faced a charge of perjury and was released on bail of R2,000
Former apartheid-era policeman Joao “Jan” Rodrigues appeared in court on Monday charged with the murder of liberation activist Ahmed Timol 47 years ago.
Rogrigues’s case is one of 300 that were either refused amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or did not bother to apply. These cases were subsequently recommended for further investigation and possible prosecution.
Timol, a member of the SA Communist Party, died while in custody in 1971.
The decision to charge Rodrigues nearly five decades after Timol fell to his death from the 10th-floor of Johannesburg’s police headquarters followed a review of the inquest, which initially ruled his death suicide.
Timol’s party has always alleged that the struggle stalwart did not jump out of the investigating room as alleged, but died during torturous interrogation and then could possibly have been thrown out the window.
Timol was arrested in Johannesburg in October 1971 and died five days later.
Officers said at the time that he took his own life. That verdict was endorsed by an inquest in 1972 but finally overturned by a court in October 2017 after a decades-long campaign by his family.
Rodrigues also faced a charge of perjury and was released on bail of R2,000 and was ordered to attend the High Court in Johannesburg in September.
“The [high court] can impose sentences of up to life imprisonment,” said National Prosecuting Authority spokeswoman Phindi Mjonondwane.
Rodrigues walked into the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday with the aid of crutches.
In delivering his ruling last year, the judge who oversaw the inquest review called for Rodrigues, who was accused of helping cover up the murder, to be prosecuted.