WEBBER WENTZEL / FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Press Release on the Postponement of the Aggett Inquest
The inquest into the death of Dr Neil Aggett was scheduled to resume on 1 June 2020 and run for three weeks. However, because of the COVID-19 restrictions the legal representatives for the Aggett family, with agreement from the other parties, sought a postponement from the Honourable Judge Makume, which was granted.
Given the decades of delay already endured by the Aggett family, the decision to seek a postponement of the resumption of the inquest was not lightly made. However, the legal representatives were of the considered view that resuming the inquest in the current circumstances would be prejudicial to the truth seeking objective of the inquest and not be in the interests of justice.
Most of the key witnesses who are due to give testimony are former Security Branch Police officers who are elderly and fall into the category of vulnerable persons. In addition, the prohibition on interprovincial and international travel will prevent witnesses from other provinces and family members living abroad from attending the hearing.
Serious consideration was given to holding the inquest over video conferencing, but it was concluded that technical difficulties would inevitably lead to disruptions and a probable further postponement. Many witnesses would not have the necessary equipment and probably lack the skills for video conferencing. Some may have poor internet connection or no connection at all.
While a new date for the resumption of the inquest has not yet been set down, it has been agreed between all the parties and Honourable Judge Makume that they will enter into discussions about the resumption of the inquest as soon as restrictions reach alert level 2 or 1, and/ or when the various obstacles can be overcome. Judge Makume has confirmed that that the resumption of the Aggett Inquest has been removed from the roll until such time that conditions improve to allow a normal court sitting.
For more information contact:
Background to the Reopened Aggett Inquest: https://unfinishedtrc.co.za/neil-aggett/