Carl Niehaus to be subpoenaed to appear at inquiry into Aggett's death
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Johannesburg - Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus is set to be subpoenaed to the inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist Dr Neil Aggett, after versions of his alleged torture by the security police were found to be contradictory.
Several activists detained at the notorious John Vorster Square around 1982, when Aggett’s body was found hanging in his cell, have come before the reopened inquest and detailed how they were tortured during interrogation, and saying that they saw brutal sessions of torture taking their toll on Aggett shortly before he was found dead.
Niehaus was initially not intending to take the stand, but was instead going to depose an affidavit to the inquiry in which he apparently detailed how he was also subjected to severe torture by Special Branch officer Nick Deetclefs.
On Wednesday, however, Deetclefs’s legal representative, advocate Fanus Coetzee, rejected the submission of Niehaus’s affidavit as evidence due to what he called factual discrepancies.
Coetzee said he was “perturbed” by Niehaus’s claim of severe torture at the hands of Deetclefs, as it was not consistent with what he previously claimed in his 1993 book about his time during the Struggle.
“I cannot agree to the handing up of this affidavit uncontested, specifically because in his book, Fighting for Hope, Niehaus said that Deetclefs only slapped him once. There is definitely a discrepancy, and unless Niehaus is going to come and give evidence so he can be examined on this fact, we cannot accept it,” Coetzee said.
Judge Mutsamayi Makume confirmed that Niehaus would be subpoenaed to come and testify before the inquiry and be cross-examined.
Niehaus said he was unfazed by the request by Deetclefs’s lawyers.
“There is no discrepancy between what I wrote in my affidavit and what I wrote in my book. Yes, I said he slapped me, but do Deetclefs and his lawyers now want to tell me what I am allowed to regard as torture?
“Wow. Let them bring it on. I will go to court and testify because I have no problem with it,” Niehaus said.
He slammed Deetclefs as a brutal accessory of the apartheid state who subjected many freedom fighters to severe torture.
“The reason I have a hearing problem is because of what they did to me. Now Deetclefs wants to come and tell me what I can consider torture?
“I will meet them in court,” he vowed.