Inquest: Killing of Dr Neil Aggett


22 January 2020

Press Statement – Imam Haron Foundation

Inquest in the Killing of Dr Neil Aggett

The Imam Haron Foundation is encouraged by the reopening of the inquest into the 1982 death in detention of Health Professional, trade unionist and community activist Dr Neil Aggett.

The Imam Haron Foundation expresses its support to the family of Dr Aggett, especially his sister Jill Burger and nephew Stephen Aggett, his comrades and friends for whom this period is indeed an extremely difficult time. The Haron family, knows your pain and suffering.

The Apartheid government knew how to cover up their lies, to invent knew one’s and to find judicial sanction and support for their crimes. The truth however finds its own way of prevailing. We trust in the work done by the Aggett family, their legal team and human rights activists to ensure that the truth will prevail. That Neil Aggett did not commit suicide through hanging himself in a police cell in the infamous torture chamber that was John Vorster Square.

During his 70 days in detention, Dr Neil Aggett was tortured, beaten and humiliated. The cover ups and the destruction of police records now means nothing when other political prisoners such as Maurice Smithers who testified in the reopened inquest, that he saw Dr Aggett being tortured.

Apartheid was a crime against humanity. The legal structure upon which it was built has come to an end. But the perpetrators of Apartheid crimes were not prosecuted. Many of them refused to appear in front of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). They sought protection and guarantees from the democratic state. They rely on the delaying tactics when there is a possibility of prosecution as in the case of Joao Rodrigues involvement in the murder of Ahmed Timol.  There is no doubt, that these perpetrators are supporting each other. That they have deep pockets and are fully exploiting the legal support they have as current and former police officials.

The Haron family is actively working with other families of Apartheid era crimes in ensuring that perpetrators are identified, that unjust findings of original inquests be overturned and that the NPA prioritize these crimes.

The Imam Haron Foundation calls on family members of Victims of Apartheid era crimes to join its efforts and to collaboratively ensure that perpetrators face the courts especially since they abused the opportunity to voluntarily tell the truth at the TRC or subsequently.

Cassiem Khan: 076 6407928