Inquest into anti-apartheid activist Aggett’s death set to continue

Sietze Albertse
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The inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist, Neil Aggett, will resume on Monday morning with more witnesses expected to give their testimonies.

On Friday expert witness Sietze Albertse, who deals with fingerprint analysis, told the court about the challenges of collecting and recreating the scene in Aggett’s cell.

Albertse had tried to verify how many fingerprints could have been realistically lifted from the cell bars.


Former security branch police officer, Paul Erasmus also gave testimony saying that the apartheid government knew of the tortures the security branch officers put the political detainees through. He said government gave police free reign to intimidate, torture and even kill anti apartheid activists – just so they could keep the National Party in power.

“At the end of the day the government of the day, the regime of the day knew exactly what was going on. To imply that they didn’t is rubbish with the amount of publicity around this case made it impossible that they wouldnt know. It was either they were too useless to know or turned a blind eye – people like De Klerk turned a blind eye he was at all StratCom meetings.”


Another witness  was anti-apartheid activist Keith Coleman, who was detained at the then John Voster Square Police Station in Johannesburg at the same time as Aggett. He testified that there was a big commotion in the corridors of the cells on the night unionist Aggett died.

“Usually after they lock the cells at night, until food was served in the morning, there was usually nothing going on. But on this occassion I heard footsteps, I heard a commossion outside my cell. So I jumped up and I ran to the window of my cell which was open. So I saw figures going past, so a moment later, I could hear the slamming going down the corridors, and my window slammed shut, these lurve windows my Lord, were just slammed shut in face, they’re opaque, but I could still make up figures moving past, but I couldn’t make up any detail at all.”


Aggett’s close friend, Gavin Anderson was also detained during the apartheid years. He told the court that Aggett and other comrades advised him to leave the country as his life was in danger. He then fled to Botswana and came back in 1995. He remembered that fateful day when he was told of the death of Aggett while in exile.

“I think this was the biggest trauma in my life. I was very close to Neil. Closer than my brother. And over the next weeks and months I started feeling guilty about his death. I felt that it should have been me. I shouldn’t have left the country. It should have been me who was detained it have been me who was tortured. I even thought that perhaps if Neil hadn’t met me in the first place he would have never been gone on the course he did.”

Meanwhile Aggett’s close friend, Sipho Kubheka who attends the proceedings on a daily basis told SABC News that he knows Aggett would never have taken his life.