After almost 40 years of his death in police custody, the inquest into 28-year-old white anti-apartheid Physician and trade unionist, Neil Aggett’s death resumed today.
As a medical doctor, Aggett worked in Soweto, Tembisa, Gauteng, and Mthatha in Eastern Cape. He advocated for workers’ rights through active participation in the African Food and Canning Workers’ Union.
For his involvement in labour movement, the apartheid security detained him in 1981 at the John Vorster Square police station, downtown Johannesburg. According to reports, he was electrocuted, flogged, and interrogated non-stop for 62 hours. On February 5, 1982, he was found dead.
After ten weeks in detention Aggett, a doctor and organiser for the Food and Canning Workers’ Union, was found hanged with a headscarf in his cell at Johannesburg’s infamous John Vorster Square.
With this inquiry, the Aggett family may finally get some closure to the incident. However, the cops allegedly responsible for his death have all died.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the late 90s heard a 1982 inquest into the death of Aggett. It was headed by Magistrate Pieter Kotze who resolved that no one was culpable for his death.
When the Aggett family lawyers provided “similar fact” of torture meted against other detainees to establish its claims, TRC reversed its “no one to blame” verdict.
Thereafter, the TRC held Major Arthur Benoni Cronwright and Lieutenant Stephen Whitehead responsible for the “mental and physical condition of Dr. Aggett which led him to take his own life”.
The inquest into Aggett’s 1982 death in incarceration will finally be reopened at the Johannesburg High Court. Activists and family members intend to overturn the original finding that he committed suicide.
His death signposts the first white person under the apartheid regime. His funeral had 10,000 people in attendance. It later sparked widespread protests and strikes across the country.
Copyright: News Central TV
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central TV.