Neil Aggett inquest on hold due to judge's illness
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Johannesburg - The proceedings of the Inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist Dr Neil Aggett remains on ice until further notice as the judge presiding over it remains hospitalised.
On Monday, Judge Motsamai Makume was hospitalised, bringing the hearing of the remaining testimonies to a halt indefinitely, and there has been no clarity regarding his illness.
Aggett was found dead and hanging in his cell while in detention at the John Vorster Square police station following days of severe torture during interrogation by the special branch police officers.
His death was declared a suicide by a previous apartheid inquest into his death.
Other political activists who were detained with Aggett and who testified before the re-opened inquest since it started in January have however blamed his death on the security police officers who had tortured him at the notorious 10th floor of the station.
Some of the former security police officers who were still alive and who remained accused of torturing political detainees at the station, including Nick Deetlefs, have been brought before the inquest to testify.
Deetlefs, who was among those who interrogated Aggett, is set to be the first to face criminal prosecution for his death after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Aggett’s family indicated that they would pursue him, and accused him of lying under oath during his testimony.
Aggett is one of 89 political activists who died in detention under questionable circumstances and no security police has been found responsible for their deaths, despite confessions from the security branch that there was wide spread cover up on the torture and killings of detainees.
Aggett is the second among the political detainees to have his inquest re-opened by the democratic government, after Ahmed Timol whose inquest took place in 2017.
Former apartheid cop Joao Rodrigues is set to be back in court on Friday for his role in the murder of Timol, who fell to his death after being thrown out of the 10th floor of the police station.
A previous inquest into his death also declared it a suicide, claiming that he had jumped.
It was also unclear when Makume would be back to conclude the proceedings of the Aggett inquest, which was scheduled to be concluded on Friday, February 28.