Justice for Neil Aggett at last?

Staff Writer | Apr 28, 2019
Justice Minister says state is committed to prosecuting perpetrators of apartheid-era crimes who were not granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Minister of Justice Michael Masutha has announced that the inquest into the 1982 death in detention of anti-apartheid activist Dr Neil Aggett will be re-opened. 

Masuthu announced on Friday 26 April that an investigation by police had revealed several new facts that raised important questions about the findings of the magistrate who conducted the first inquest, which found that Aggett had committed suicide.

“As in the case of Dr Hoosen Haffejee and Ahmed Timol, the state is committed to ensuring that perpetrators of apartheid era crimes who have not been granted amnesty by the TRC are brought to book,” he said.

Aggett was a doctor who worked in black hospitals in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng. While at Baragwanath, he was appointed as an organiser for the Transvaal Branch of the African Food and Canning Workers’ Union (AFCWU).

He led the 1979 Fattis & Monis boycott and strike to demand the right to be represented by a trade union rather than an in-house committee.

Aggett’s ongoing union and political activity led to his detention. He was taken to Pretoria Central Prison and later transferred to John Vorster Square (now Johannesburg Central Police Station).

His health diminished and he underwent a 62-hour interrogation just before his death. He died in detention on 5 February 1982, allegedly by hanging himself with a scarf. He became the first white person to die under these circumstances.

The inquest into his death found that no one was responsible for his death.


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