Aggett’s family want his torturers charged

2013-02-11 00:00

THIRTY-ONE years after Dr Neil Aggett became the first white detainee to die in police custody, his family and friends are demanding that cases of culpable homicide and murder be investigated.

On the anniversary of the trade unionist’s death last week, the Neil Aggett support group sent an open letter to Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, saying that there are enough legal grounds to charge former security policemen Lieutenant Steven Whitehead and Major Arthur Cronwright for Aggett’s torture and death.

Aggett (28) was found hanged in his cell in John Vorster Square police station in February 1982.

He had endured 70 days in detention and 62 hours of torture.

Police said he had committed suicide, but family members are convinced that there are legal grounds to charge the policemen after Judge Chris Nicholson said at the launch of Aggett’s biography last October that his death was undoubtedly an “induced suicide”.

For this reason, there are grounds for a case of culpable homicide.

Dr Liz Floyd, who was Aggett’s partner for eight years before his death, told sister paper Beeld yesterday that it grieves her that Whitehead and Cronwright never appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to explain their roles.

The TRC found that Aggett’s torture was the “direct cause” of his suicide, although no one was ever prosecuted.

“Neil’s death opened the eyes of white people,” Floyd said.

“It was a watershed moment for white South Africans because they had to accept that people were tortured in security police detention.”

Radebe’s spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga could not say whether he had received the open letter, because he was in the cabinet lekgotla all week.

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