Neil Aggett inquest: Judgment to be delivered this week
Legal representatives for the family have requested the court to reverse the 1982 decision which found that Aggett had committed suicide.
Neil Aggett inquest. Picture: Gallo images
The Johannesburg High Court is expected to deliver judgment in the reopened inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist Dr Neil Aggett on Friday.
The hearing will be open to the public and press subject to the court’s Covid-19 protocols, while the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) will be recording and live streaming the judgment hearing via its YouTube channel .
Aggett was a medical doctor and trade union organiser, who was on 5 February 1982 found hanging in his cell at John Vorster Square, after 70 days in police custody. An initial inquest in 1982 ruled his death the result of suicide.
However, almost three decades later, based on new evidence, a reopened inquest was ordered on 16 August 2019 and commenced on 20 January 2020 in the South Gauteng High Court of Johannesburg.
Family members, experts and political activists testified about their interactions with Aggett before his death, their experiences under detention without trial and the interrogation techniques and torture employed by Security Branch of the South African Police.
The court also conducted an inspection in loco of the 2nd and 10th floor of the John Vorster Square, where political activists were kept and interrogated, and were the body of Aggett was found in 1982.
In their heads of arguments, the legal representatives for the family, including Advocate Howard Varney, Advocate Thai Scott and Advocate Naseema Fakir, requested the court to reverse the 1982 decision by the first inquest court, which found that Aggett had committed suicide.
They also recommended that other former members of the Security Branch be charged with perjury for making the false statements.
“The reopened inquest has been a very challenging and an emotional roller coaster for the Aggett’s family who waited more than a decade to have the inquests re-opened only to have the hearing interrupted by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in a manner not foreseen by anyone,” said the foundation in a statement.