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Emotional Frank Chikane Recalls Period After Neil Aggett’s Death

A YouTube screengrab of Reverend Frank Chikane testifying at the Neil Aggett inquest at the Johannesburg High Court on 30 January 2020.

JOHANNESBURG – Anti-apartheid activist Frank Chikane said political detainees received better treatment for a brief period after the death of Neil Aggett in 1982.

On Thursday, Chikane said after Aggett was found hanging in his holding cell at the John Vorster Square, prisoners were allowed family visits and were fed regularly.

An apartheid inquiry found that the trade unionist committed suicide, but his family has always believed he died at the hands of the apartheid police.

Chikane became emotional during his testimony, saying he never believed Aggett committed suicide. But said things changed after Aggett’s death.

“Aggett’s death allowed us to meet family for the first time. I got to see my wife and sign the power of attorney. I got some clothes and food, which was not the case before.”

He added security officials would continuously check their pulse to see if they were still breathing.

The inquiry resumes on Friday.


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