Joao Rodrigues ruling not 'vengeful', says Ahmed Timol trial judge

Judge Seun Moshidi found that Joao Rodrigues should stand trial for activist Ahmed Timol’s 1971 murder.

Jan Roderigues testifies during the Ahmed Timol inquest on 1 August, 2017. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The family of Ahmed Timol said Monday’s ruling by the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg was a victory not just for him, but for all other activists who were killed by the apartheid police.

The High Court dismissed an application by one of Timol’s alleged killers for a stay of prosecution.

Judge Seun Moshidi found that Joao Rodrigues should stand trial for Timol’s 1971 murder.

Judge Moshidi said his decision to deny Rodrigues a permanent stay of prosecution was not based on vengeance.

“The refusal of a permanent stay of prosecution is not signalling that we are required to be vengeful to those who are alleged to have committed serious crimes in the past, but rather an affirmation that the principles of accountability and responsibility for the breaching of the rules of society stand at the doorway of our new constitutional order,” he said.

Moshidi said the case reaffirmed that justice and truth were never meant to be compromised.

Timol’s nephew said the ruling was historic and set a precedent for cases to come.

“It’s a victory for those who died in police detention. This is historic and we are truly humbled, and we would like to thank our legal team, specifically the Foundation for Human Rights,” he said.

Timol’s brother, Mohammed, said Rodrigues still needed to tell the truth about what happened.

“My understanding of the law is that he still had an opportunity to make full disclosure to the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) of what his role was and the people who were responsible for the murder of Ahmed Timol.”

Timol’s family said while they were relieved by the ruling, they expected Rodrigues to appeal.