Former security branch cop describes working conditions at John Vorster Square

2020-01-28 16:40
Former security branch officer Joe Nyampule. (Ntwaagae Seleka)

Former security branch officer Joe Nyampule. (Ntwaagae Seleka)

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Describing working conditions at John Vorster Square, now known as the Johannesburg Central police station, a former security branch officer said black officers were crammed into one office while most of their white counterparts had their own offices.

Joe Nyampule was testifying at the inquest into the death of apartheid activist Dr Neil Aggett who died at the notorious police station.

It is alleged that Aggett committed suicide by hanging himself on February 4, 1982 or February 5, 1982.

The inquest is being held at the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. 

Nyampule testified on Tuesday that most white officers had their own offices and some shared space.

However, while there were more than 10 black officers in the unit at the station, they were crammed into one room, except for their senior colleague, a Captain Makgoro.

READ | They would first use the k-word before addressing us - black ex-Security Branch cop

"Only white officers were responsible for interrogating detainees and black officers were used as interpreters or to accompany detainees to the toilet. Black officers didn't interrogate them. Our duty was to take them to toilet if they wanted to go," he said.

Nyampule said he was sent to the special branch unit and that he didn’t apply to work there.

"When I joined the police force, I was told that I was going to be deployed anywhere in the country. I was ordered to sign the secrecy forms which were written in Afrikaans. I was told that everything that happens there stays there.

"What you see or hear there, you would not share nor tell anyone," he said.

"Most of us black officers knocked off at 16:00. However, the following day, I would hear that my black colleagues worked at night with white officers.

"I only worked with my white colleagues when there were operations, either to arrest or when detainees were doing pointing outs," he testified.

Nyampule said on many occasions, detainees were taken out for investigations and officers would not fill out the registrar when returning them to their cells.

READ | Former Security Branch cop testifies that he was denied access to Neil Aggett's cell

He said all complaints of assaults that detainees made to him, were taken to the warrant officer who would escalate it to their bosses on the 10th floor.

"If a detainee was injured, I would also inform [the warrant officer] who would alert the 10th floor, where it will be decided to take him to see a doctor or not. Our doctors would only visit detainees once in a week or two weeks.

"If detainees were supposed to see a doctor, they were escorted to a district surgeon and later brought back. An injured detainee would never be taken to a doctor on a scheduled visit," he said.

The inquest continues

Read more on:    neil aggett  |  johannesburg  |  crime  |  courts

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