There's no doubt apartheid's Security Branch detained, tortured and sometimes killed activists, but lengthy delays in investigation, and prosecution have made it increasingly difficult to prove. Neil Aggett's family has five weeks to set the record straight as evidence and witnesses have diminished over time.
The first witness at the reopened Neil Aggett inquest outlined how difficult it is to gather information about the death of a political detainee decades after he died during apartheid, a system known for covering up its brutal acts and its tracks.
Warrant Office Frank Kgamanyane, appointed to the case in May 2019, went to Johannesburg Central Police Station, formerly John Vorster Square, to find the original Aggett arrest docket. It wasn't there.
He went to the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court, where the 1982 inquest was held and SA National Archives to find the record of the first inquest, but a 1986 law allowed for the destruction of such records after 10 years.
Kgamanyane eventually found the inquest record at Wits University's Historical Papers, but hundreds of pages were missing, including witness statements and photographs of Aggett's post-mortem.
Aggett, a medical doctor and trade unionist, was found hanged in his cell in 1982 after 70 days...