Howard Varney, the lawyer representing the family of anti-apartheid activist Neil Aggett, says the Security Branch at the then John Vorster Square had ignored a directive that all items that detainees could use to commit suicide, should be removed from their cells.
Aggett was found hanging in his cell on the 5th of February 1982 after he was assaulted and tortured.
The Security Branch claimed he committed suicide, but his family believes he was murdered.
Testifying virtually at the inquest into Aggett’s death, former police officer, Eddie Lloyd said that a multi-coloured cloth was among the items that were brought in for Aggett in December 1981.
Lloyd’s duty was to receive and register parcels on behalf of detainees, from their families, before handing them over to an investigating officer.
Varney has been cross-examining Lloyd.
Howard Varney says, “It specifically said that items of clothing that could be used for purposes of suicide, should be removed. Yet the version of the Security Branch, before the 1982 inquest is that, in fact, he was allowed to have a long scarf, a cucoi, in his cell and he allegedly used it to hang himself in his cell. When, in fact, according to this circular that cucoi was contraband material?”
Eddie Lloyd replied, “Ja, it seems that what you said, it’s true.”
Yesterday, Former security branch police officer, Roelof Venter, concluded his testimony.
Venter conceded that during the 1980s, political detainees had been tortured at the then John Vorster Square Police Station in Johannesburg.
Venter said he had never met Aggett even though he had interrogated other political prisoners at John Vorster Square at the time of Aggett‘s detention there.
Roelf Venter spent almost 30 years in the Security Branch. He said he was based at John Vorster Square for about six months from December 198,1 but that he had never interrogated Neil Aggett. During cross-examination by the state prosecutor, Shubnum Singh, Venter denied physically assaulting detainees, but admitted to depriving them of sleep and subjecting them to forced exercise..
Lawyer representing the family of anti-apartheid activist Neil Aggett cross-examines former police officer, Roelf Venter: