Twenty-four files containing vital information of former security branch members involved in an inquest into anti-apartheid activist Dr Neil Aggett’s death in 1982, have seemingly gone missing or are unavailable, Webber Wentzel’s Howard Varney told the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Monday.
The files, Varney said, contain the personal information of the members, as well as a complete record of their careers.
This includes cases they’ve been involved in and possible complaints or charges against them.
The reopened inquest kicked off on Monday, with Aggett’s family hoping to overturn the findings of the 1982 inquest which found that he committed suicide 70 days into his detention at the infamous John Vorster Square police station.
There are a number of officers who the investigating officer Frank Kgamanyane could not trace to make a statement.
Because of this, Varney said the South African Police Service should be called to explain why these files are no longer available.
Kgamanyane testified that he had tried to track down former security branch members as well as witnesses involved in Aggett’s case during apartheid.
Kgamanyane said some of these officers were untraceable, some had died and others had not submitted a statement.
Exhibits were also missing, including pages from the record, affidavits and “most telling photographs of the crime scene and the post-mortem, which are particularly unfortunate”, Varney said.
He added that legal submissions would have to be made as to whether the missing exhibits have “any material impact” on the case.
Next month will be the 38th anniversary of Aggett’s death and the family have made multiple attempts to reopen the inquest into his death.
Speaking of the previous investigating officer before Kgamanyane, Varney lamented a lack of evidence in the case, despite the years it had taken to get to court.
“This case, as with most of the other TRC cases, had been plagued by long delays.
“We were particularly upset that after we brought the Aggett case to the attention of SAPS and the NPA in January 2016, it took four years to get to the point where we are today.
“This is not really apparent in the documents put up so far – what happened during the course of the investigation?” Varney asked.