CHARMAIN NAIDOO: Rodrigues trial brings back memories of apartheid days
Former policeman Joao ‘Jan’ Rodrigues is alleged to have murdered liberation activist Ahmed Timol while being interrogated 47 years ago
I went to court this week, for the first time in a very long time as a journalist, and sat in Courtroom 11F as a case that I – and you, readers – am paying for was heard before a full bench that included august judges Seun Moshidi, Jody Kollapen and Ingrid Opperman.
Joao “Jan” Rodrigues – the 79-year-old former policeman alleged to have murdered anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol 47 years ago – was meant to be in the dock (but was not) as his counsel applied for a permanent stay of prosecution. An aside … want to know why you, the taxpayer, is paying for this trial? Well, because the 29-year-old Rodrigues was a state employed policeman in 1971 and therefore he is entitled to have his defence paid for by the national director of public prosecutions. Going back into that courthouse building that was “home” for a chunk of my young journalist life felt familiar and strange at the same time. All that has changed is the ratio of black to white men and women in their black gowns with white bibs. The number of darker skinned lawyers and attorneys and advocates and judges has gone up exponentially to reflect, at last, the demographic of our country. Among things familiar were the punishingly hard wood benches even more uncomfortable than my young back ...
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