Apartheid-era political detainee Jabu Ngwenya testified at the inquest into Dr Neil Aggett's death in detention at what was then John Vorster Square. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)
Apartheid-era political detainee Jabu Ngwenya testified at the inquest into Dr Neil Aggett's death in detention at what was then John Vorster Square. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

No medical officer attended scene of Aggett's death, inquest hears

By Siviwe Feketha Time of article published Feb 6, 2020

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Johannesburg -  Forensic pathologist Dr Steve Naidoo has expressed concern that there was no medical officer assigned at the scene of anti-apartheid activist Dr Neil Aggett's death at John Vorster Square police station 38 years ago.

Naidoo was giving expert testimony on Wednesday at the reopened inquest into the death of Aggett, who was found hanging in his cell at the station in 1982 after days of torture, with the previous inquest finding no foul play.

Naidoo said the failure of a pathologist to attend to the death scene was but one of a number of shortcomings in the examination and analysis of Aggett’s death by the apartheid state.

“I don’t know why the pathologist chose not to attend to the scene. I find this troubling.  In a political death, not only should there have been somebody at the scene but the chief government pathologist as the head of the department would be directly involved. And if he did not go to the scene himself, he would deploy someone senior and competent,” Naidoo said.

While Aggett’s death was declared a suicide, his fellow activists accused the apartheid security police of responsible for his death.

Fellow detainee Jabu Ngwenya earlier testified that there was a lot of commotion and movement by the security police around Aggett’s cell the night before his death was revealed, adding that he did not believe Aggett had died in his cell as claimed.

“He had died on the tenth floor. That is my belief. I had that feeling…to say the body of Neil Aggett had been moved in and also to stage his death. That is how I viewed and looked at it. They brought him being dead,” he said.

Naidoo continues with his expert testimony.

Political Bureau

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