It is gratifying to witness the attention aroused by the opening of the inquest into the death of Neil Aggett.
SAfm radio did him proud in its pretrial broadcasts. The ensuing news coverage during the expected hearing of about five weeks can only enhance his reputation as one of SA’s greatest heroes.
In an eNCA video clip, we saw advocate Howard Varney telling the inquest court that after his arrest on November 27 1981, Aggett said to his sister: “It’s fine, I have nothing to answer for.” She vividly recalled visiting “an emaciated Neil” in John Vorster Square a month later, on December 31. On February 5 1982 she received the “earth-shattering news” of his death in detention.
Aggett had “nothing to answer for”, but died for ideals not unlike those of recognised heroes such as Jan Palach, who protested against the Soviet quashing of the “Prague Spring” of 1968, and Mohamed Bouazizi, whose suicide launched the “Arab Spring”.
Sadly, today’s long overdue attempt to substitute justice for the “fraudulent” previous inquest must rake up intense grief among all who will hold Aggett’s memory dear, regardless of the outcome of the inquest.