Timol's family 'cautiously optimistic' ahead of former police sergeant's court appearance
The nephew of anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Timol, says the family is cautiously optimistic ahead of the appearance of former security branch police sergeant Joao Jan Rodrigues in court on Monday.
The NPA confirmed 79-year-old Joao Rodrigues would be appearing in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on charges of murder and defeating the ends of justice.
Almost 46 years since his death, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria last year found that Timol, just as his family had always maintained, died at the hands of apartheid security branch police while in detention.
Nephew Imtiaz Cajee said on Sunday evening that the latest development was a very significant milestone.
"We are cautiously optimistic. We hope and pray that a pre-trial date can be set and that eventually court proceedings unfold," he said.
"We are grateful to the Almighty for the progress made on my uncle's matter because many other families haven't come close to what we have accomplished."
Cajee admitted that their biggest concern and fear has been that the elderly Rodrigues would not live to see his day in court. He said it was essential that the matter be fast-tracked.
"We want closure and we feel he is in a position to provide the valuable answers we are searching for.
"If he makes a full disclosure, we are prepared to reconcile and put our differences aside."
Cajee said he hoped people would be reminded of the great sacrifices that his uncle and many others made during apartheid, as the country dealt with the current challenges of "corruption, nepotism, the blatant looting of state resources and white monopoly capital".
Judge Billy Mothle found that Timol did not meet his death because he committed suicide but that he "died as a result of having been pushed to fall, an act which was committed by members of the security branch with dolus eventualis as a form of intent, and prima facie amounting to murder".
Mothle said three witnesses contradicted Rodrigues' version of events around Timol's death.
He said members of the security branch who were interrogating Timol on that day were collectively responsible for his death.
"Rodrigues placed himself on the scene as a party to the cover-up to conceal the truth," and thus became an accessory to murder, he said at the time.
"Rodrigues should be investigated for making contradictory statements while under oath. He has a previous conviction on perjury."
*This story has been amended to reflect the correct age of Rodrigues