Tutu Foundation supports reopening of death inquest
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The Desmond & Leah Tutu
Legacy Foundation has welcomed the reopening of the inquest
into the 1982 death of anti-apartheid activist Dr Neil Aggett while
in police custody.
They said nearly 20 years
ago, in its final report to government, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, listed the Aggett case among 300 apartheid-era murders warranting further investigation by the state.
The inquest kicked-off in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Monday.
Aggett was a medical doctor,
and was tortured by apartheid
police before he died in custody
in 1982 at the John Vorster
An inquest convened by the apartheid state soon after his death swept evidence of his brutal torture and assault by security police aside, and delivered a finding of suicide, the foundation said.
For the past 38 years, the finding has been rejected by all who knew Aggett and had knowledge of security police methods.
His body was found hanging
in his cell, but the TRC refused to give the police amnesty for his death, which opened doors for his family to request the reopening of the inquest.
In 2018, after the Gauteng North High Court overturned a 1972 inquest court finding that the activist Ahmed Timol had committed suicide in detention, replacing it with a finding of murder, the Archbishop supported the reinvestigation of eight other alleged suicides, including that of Aggett.
“The families of the victims have waited far too long for justice. Information leading to the resolution of these cases will bring closure and healing not only to these families, but also to the nation.
“It will contribute to developing a caring and compassionate society, besides preserving the memory and dignity of those who laid down their lives for our democracy,” the Archbishop said in a statement released by the Foundation for Human Rights.
The inquest will continue
until the end of next month,
with police investigators and
other witnesses expected to give evidence.