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Apartheid-era police will be subpoenaed to testify in Neil Aggett inquest

20 January 2020 1:47 PM
Tags:
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Yasmin Sooka
TRC
Neil Aggett
Anti apartheid activist Neil Aggett
apartheid era crimes
Dr Neil Aggett
Neil Agget inquest
Almost 38 years after his death, a fresh investigation into the death of anti-apartheid activist Neil Aggett has been opened.

A new inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist Dr Neil Aggett has started in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Monday.

Aggett was a medical doctor and trade unionist who died in 1982 in police custody under mysterious circumstances.

His body was found hanging in his cell.

At the time, his death was ruled to be a suicide.

But the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) refused to give the police amnesty for his death after it was found that Aggett was tortured by apartheid police before he died.

Anti-apartheid activist Neil Aggett was tortured for three days before his death in 1982. Picture: Wikipedia.

Former TRC commissioner Yasmin Sooka says the reopening of the inquest marks an important moment for Aggett's family and many other families who have not had closure for apartheid-era crimes.

RELATED: Son of slain Cradock Four activist implicates FW de Klerk in father’s murder

The murders of Dr Aggett, Ahmed Timol and Nokuthula Simelane are the first three cases to be re-opened that involved the apparent murder of detainees by the former security branch.

RELATED: Reopen inquest into Imam Haron's death - foundation pleads with justice minister

Sooka, a human rights lawyer, says the family is determined to get to the bottom of what happened.

Police who were involved in the arrest and interrogation and detention of Aggett will be subpoenaed to testify in court.

Other witnesses include former detainees who will testify about their time in police custody, Sooka explains.

It's quite a historic moment. This is going to be the second inquest that will be reopened into the death of many apartheid activists.

Yasmin Sooka, Former commissioner - Truth and Reconciliation Commission

It is an opportunity not only for the family, but also for South Africans to learn about what actually happened to Neil Aggett and many other activists who were brutally tortured by the security branch.

Yasmin Sooka, Former commissioner - Truth and Reconciliation Commission

We are going to argue, through the family lawyers, that it's quite likely that he was murdered and that he did not take his own life.

Yasmin Sooka, Former commissioner - Truth and Reconciliation Commission

A second alternative is that his treatment was so brutal that in fact suicide was induced.

Yasmin Sooka, Former commissioner - Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The hearings are expected to run until next month.

Listen to Yasmin Sooka in conversation with Clement Manyathela:


20 January 2020 1:47 PM
Tags:
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Yasmin Sooka
TRC
Neil Aggett
Anti apartheid activist Neil Aggett
apartheid era crimes
Dr Neil Aggett
Neil Agget inquest

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