Statement on the Judgement of the Supreme Court of Appeal in the case of Joao Rodrigues v National Director of Public Prosecutions, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Minister of Police and Imitiaz Ahmed Cajee.
Cape Town – Wednesday, 22 June 2021 – The Preamble to the South African Constitution calls upon us to “Recognise the injustices of our past”. This is a vital part of the reconciliation that is needed in our country as a result of slavery, colonialism and apartheid. We cannot move forward until we have told the truth about our history.
The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation therefore greatly welcomes the judgement of the Supreme Court of Appeal in denying the application of Joao Rodrigues to have a permanent stay of prosecution. Mr Rodrigues has been charged with the murder of Mr Ahmed Timol who died in police custody in 1971.
Mr Timol’s family have been waiting over 49 years for the truth to come out and for justice to be served. In that time, they have had to suffer the indignity of the initial 1972 enquiry exonerating the police of his torture and subsequent murder. It took until 2018 for an inquest into Mr Timol’s death to be reopened and for Mr Rodrigues to be charged.
This is but the first step for justice to be served. The case highlights the problem of post-apartheid prosecutions of those who committed crimes under apartheid. The impunity with which torture and murder was carried out by the police and the security forces was ubiquitous and well documented. Yet to date those who were involved in these crimes against humanity have not been prosecuted.
While today is a day for celebration, it is also a time for sober reflection that many other families are still awaiting justice for the victims of apartheid. The allegation of political interference into the non-prosecution of apartheid crimes is a great cause for concern and one that needs to be further investigated. We call on the NPA to expedite these cases in the interests of justice and national reconciliation.
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