On February 5, 1982, Dr Neil Aggett was found hanged in his cell after being detained without trial and interrogated at John Vorster Square police station for 70 days. File picture: Wesley Fester
On February 5, 1982, Dr Neil Aggett was found hanged in his cell after being detained without trial and interrogated at John Vorster Square police station for 70 days. File picture: Wesley Fester

Tutu Foundation supports reopening of death inquest

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Jan 22, 2020

Share this article:

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

police station.

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.

Cape Times

Share this article: