News Brief

This South African Apartheid Officer is Going on Trial for Murder

Former Apartheid police officer Joao Rodrigues will go on trial for the murder of anti-Apartheid struggle hero, Ahmed Timol.

Ahmed Timol was an anti-Apartheid activist whose death has remained shrouded in controversy for decades. An inquest into his death was launched in 2017 and Apartheid police officer, Joao Rodrigues, was implicated in Timol's murder.

Although the now 80-year-old Rodrigues applied for a permanent stay of prosecution because of his age, it was denied by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and he will now go on trial according to TimesLIVE.


Timol had affiliations with the South African Communist Party (SACP) and was arrested at a roadblock in 1971 because of this affiliation by the Apartheid government. While in police detention, he was allegedly murdered. However, the government's official report claimed that he had committed suicide by jumping from the window of the tenth floor of the police station where he was being detained.

Read more about Timol here.

A well-known poem by South African writer, Chris van Wyk, entitled In Detention spoke about Timol's "suicide" in a satirical manner to emphasize the sheer absurdity of the Apartheid government's claims that he willingly jumped to his death. He writes:

"He slipped on a piece of soap while washing
He fell from the ninth floor
He hanged himself while washing
He slipped from the ninth floor
He hung from the ninth floor"

Finally, Timol's family will be able to obtain the justice that he himself was not afforded all those years ago. The judgement and impending trial has sparked conversation and set a new precedence for former Apartheid officers (still living) who were also involved in a myriad of crimes for which they were never prosecuted.


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