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‘Silent complicity, the silence of cowardice, is finally coming ...

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‘Silent complicity, the silence of cowardice, is finally coming to an end’

Magistrate in first Neil Aggett inquest ‘covered up crimes’, activists call for prosecution of surviving SB members

David Forbes

The mood in court GC of the South Gauteng high court was tense and expectant on Friday morning, an uneasy silence of certain uncertainty, broken by hushed undertones, the odd cough, the humdrum aircon and the creaking of chairs.

This silence was broken by the loud “All rise!” of the clerk of the court as judge Motsamai Makume entered, sat down and rapidly got going with the business of the day: delivering his judgment in the reopened inquest into the February 1982 death in police custody of Dr Neil Aggett, an activist, trade union organiser and medical doctor.

In the sombre, wood-panelled room filled with lawyers, family and media, judge Makume didn’t mince his words as he overturned the first inquest’s findings. After traversing the evidence, he ripped into apartheid magistrate Petrus Kotze, saying his findings were “disgusting” and biased, that he had misdirected himself and helped cover up crimes by Security Branch (SB) officers who interrogated and killed Aggett...

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