Joao Rodrigues’ lawyers argue he shouldn’t be jailed for Ahmed Timol’s murder

Rodrigues has filed an application for leave to appeal following the Johannesburg High Court’s decision to dismiss his plea for a permanent stay of prosecution.

FILE: Joao Rodrigues testifies during the Ahmed Timol inquest on 1 August 2017. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) is hearing arguments from Joao Rodrigues’ lawyers pertaining to why the former apartheid security branch official should not be jailed for the murder of late freedom fighter Ahmed Timol.

Rodrigues has filed an application for leave to appeal following the Johannesburg High Court’s decision to dismiss his plea for a permanent stay of prosecution.

Arguing for Rodrigues, advocate Jaap Cilliers said they wanted the Supreme Court of Appeal to determine whether the prosecution which was instituted 47 years after the crime infringes his client’s constitutional right to a fair trial.

They further want the court to decide on whether his right to trial was not prejudiced by what they call “unreasonable delay”.

The respondents in the matter include the national director of public prosecutions and the minister of justice and correctional services who Cilliers accused of not disclosing the true and material facts relevant in the case.

“So we know that the minister deliberately withheld this information and we know that the minister’s office was involved in the interference regarding the information that is before us.”

Timol was murdered in 1971 while in police custody, however, the apartheid government claimed then that he had “fallen” from the 10th floor of the security branch offices.

Meanwhile, lawyers opposing Rodrigues’ appeal for a stay of prosecution said while they agreed that investigations into the matter could have taken place earlier, there was no reason why he could not face the full might of the law now.

Although the lawyers for the Justice Minister Ronald Lamola caught heat from the SCA for saying he was not in possession of key documents in the matter, as he was not in the position during the initial investigations, other respondents argued that the application for a stay of the prosecution was not warranted.

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