Former apartheid-era police administrator, Joao Rodrigues, gave testimony at the inquest into the death of Ahmed Timol. File Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL
Former apartheid-era police administrator, Joao Rodrigues, gave testimony at the inquest into the death of Ahmed Timol. File Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL

Joao Rodrigues, the retired security branch police officer implicated in the murder of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol in 1971, will have to answer to the charges against him.

This comes after the Johannesburg high court dismissed Rodrigues's application for a permanent stay of prosecution, on Monday.

He had applied for a permanent stay after being charged with Timol's murder in July 2018.

Timol died in 1971 after falling from the 10th floor of the then John Vorster Square police station in central Johannesburg, where he had been detained.

While the original inquest in 1972 concluded that Timol had committed suicide, the re-opened inquest in 2017, headed by judge Billy Mothle, found that his death was a result of being pushed. It also recommended that Rodrigues be investigated.

Rodrigues was indicted for murder and defeating the ends of justice in July 2018. After a number of appearances in court in 2018, Rodrigues applied for a permanent stay of prosecution.

The application was opposed by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the minister of justice, the minister of police and Timol's nephew, Imtiaz Cajee.

Rodrigues argued that the delay in bringing him to trial, from the time of Timol's death to him being charged, infringed on his right to a fair trial.

One of the reasons given in his application was that he could no longer remember some of the events because the incident happened a long time ago and he suffered from memory loss.

The court dismissed Rodrigues's concerns, however, saying these factors could be considered at the sentencing stage. The court ruled that the delays Rodrigues complained about could not be said to taint the fairness of the trial.

Judge Seun Moshidi, who read the judgment of a full bench, said the ruling meant that justice would not be compromised.