UCT Libraries

BC 1110 THE NEIL AGGETT PAPERS

Manuscripts & Archives

University of Cape Town Libraries

 

The collection captures the events following Neil Aggett's death and details of the inquest.  It also contains material pertaining to the Detainees Parents Support Committee, (DPSC), and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, (TRC).  Notably, it provides an insight into the lives of political detainees who were denied access to lawyers, personal doctors, and their families.  In addition, the collection comprises correspondence, newspaper clippings, videos, and tapes.  The personal section reveals Neil Aggett's poetic interest.

 

 

BC 1110 Niel Aggett Papers

 

CONTENTS

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Biographical note

 

The Collection

A.

PERSONAL

B.

CORRESPONDENCE

C.

THE INQUEST

D.

NEWSCLIPPINGS

E.

VARIOUS REPORTS AND ARTICLES

F.

DETAINEES PARENTS SUPPORT COMMITTEE (DPSC)

G.

MEDIA COVERAGE

H.

TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMISSION (TRC)

J.

PHOTOGRAPHS

K.

MISCELLANEOUS

INTRODUCTION

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Neil Aggett was born on 6 October 1953 in Nanyuki, Kenya.  At the age of 10 he immigrated to South Africa with his family.  He attended school at Kingswood College in Grahamstown from where he matriculated with a 1st class pass and a distinction in Maths.

He went on to study Medicine at the University of Cape Town. He did his internship at hospitals in Umtata (Transkei) and Tembisa in the Transvaal.  It was here that he became aware that his patients’ medical problems stemmed mostly from “social problems such as poverty, unemployment and poor living conditions.”

On completion of his internship he worked at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. During this time he also did part-time work for the Industrial Aid Society helping workers with Workman’s Compensation problems, as many of the patients he treated were injured at work.  Often these workers received little or no compensation or even lost their jobs leaving them destitute. This probably led to his gradual involvement in other labour issues such as unfair dismissals, labour contracts etc.

In 1979 he joined the African Food & Canning Workers Union (AFCWU) as secretary of the Transvaal branch. He kept his links with the medical profession by working 1 or 2 nights a week in the Casualty Dept. at Baragwanath Hospital.  He was detained on the 27 November 1981 together with Liz Floyd, his girlfriend and former colleague in the Industrial Aid Society, under Section 22 of the General Laws Amendment Act. After 14 days this was changed to Section 6 of the Terrorism Act.

He died after 70 days in detention on 5 February1982.

THE  COLLECTION

The Neil Aggett papers were donated to the University of Cape Town Libraries in 1997 by his parents, Mr. J A E & Mrs. J N Aggett.

The collection contains mainly material relating to the events which followed the death of Neil Aggett while held in detention under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act.

A large part of the collection contain details of the inquest into the circumstances of his death. This is in the form of correspondence between his family and their lawyers Bell, Dewar & Hall.

There is also a large collection of newsclippings in the form of scrapbooks, covering Neil’s death, political detainees, security laws etc.

The collection also contains some material relating to the Detainees Parents Support Committee (DPSC); media coverage in the the form of videos and tape recordings, as well as material on the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.  There are also personal papers such as school reports, diaries and a book of poems.  The correspondence consists mainly of letters of sympathy and support for the family.

The collection gives an insight into the experiences of political detainees while held under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act, which allows the security police to hold a detainee for an indefinite period without recourse to lawyers, personal doctors or their families.

BC 1110 NEIL AGGETT PAPERS

A.

PERSONAL

A1

School Reports: Kingswood College Grahamstown, 1964-1970.

 

Afrikaanse Taaleksamen Certificate, 1967

 

General Certificate of Education 1968,

 

First Aid Certificate, 1969

 

Senior Prize Distribution list featuring Neil Aggett’s name.

A2

Diaries, 1969 & 1970

A3

Journal, 1971

 

contains newsclippings, poetry, and writings of various philosophers such as Kant; Hegel etc. on loose cards.

A4

“Neil’s Poems”, nd.

A5

Notebook on “Applied Psychology”, 2nd year medicine, 1972.

A6

Biographical note

A7

Tributes and a funeral programme.

A8

“Statement of Assets & Liabilities in the intestate estate of the late Neil Hudson Aggett...., 12/3/1986.”

A9

George Meany Human Rights Award - received by Neil Aggett’s father and sister Mr J A E Aggett and Mrs Jill Burger on Neil’s behalf.

 

(audio cassette recording)

 

# Note: Baptism and Confirmation Certificates are in B3

B.

CORRESPONDENCE

B1

Letters of Sympathy, 1982-1983

 

(arranged in alphabetical order)

B1.1

letters & cards sent to Mrs. Jill Burger (nee Aggett)

B1.2

letters sent to Mr. & Mrs. J A Aggett

B1.3

sympathy cards

B1.4

donations offered by organisations and individuals towards the costs of the inquest

B1.5

draft letters from the Aggett family to Mr. & Mrs. Philip and Mrs. Bishop, 1984 & 1986 respectively

B1.6

miscellaneous

B2

Messages of Support from Trade Unions, organisations and individuals.

B3

2 flip files containing correspondence relating to Neil Aggett’s death in detention.

 

contain:-

 

baptism and confirmation certificates

 

newsclippings

 

letters from Helen Suzman (parliamentarian); Hawa Timol (mother of Ahmed Timol who died in detention); KAIROS- Christians against apartheid, Holland; Senator Harold Young & Sir Billy Sneddon of the Australian Parliament and Victoria Mxenge (attorney), 1982

 

letter from Yvonne Biller (nee Aggett) to Louis le Grange Minister of Police, 1982

 

memorials to Neil Aggett:-

 

- commemoration meeting programme at Wits University, 5/2/1983

 

- interview with Liz Floyd  “One year later” by Learn & Teach.

 

- George Meany Human Rights Award.

B4

Copies of correspondence between the Aggett family and various newspapers and extracts from newspapers relating to the death of Neil Aggett.

 

Includes a letter from A. Heard, 8/10/1989.

B5

Letter from the Aggett Family to Dr. S J Saunders offering the University of Cape Town a donation to honour Neil’s memory.

C

THE INQUEST

C1.

Summaries & Updates of the Legal Position of the Inquest, Feb. 1982-June 83

 

includes correspondence between attorneys Bell, Dewar & Hall and the Aggett family.

C2

Psychiatric Reports by:

 

Jan Adriaan Plomp

 

Louis Jolyon West

 

(includes a Curriculum Vitae & correspondence with attorneys Bell, Dewar & Hall)

 

Bell, Dewar, & Hall: a “note on psychological aspects as at 25 June 1982”

C3

Break-In at the Aggett’s Somerset West home by the Security Police.

 

contains:-

 

Affidavits by - Michael Joseph Richman (lawyer)

 

- John A E Aggett

 

 - Joyce N Aggett

 

- William Anderson  (the Aggetts’ neighbour)

 

- Sarah Isaacs            (housekeeper)

 

 - Isak Isaacs               (housekeeper’s husband)

 

typed pages of the “Sequence of Events” from 14/3/1982 - 21/3/1982 and “Questions we would like asked”

 

Lawyers letters to the Attorney General and the Divisional Commissioner of the South African Police with a transcript of a tape recording of the incident.

 

correspondence between lawyers and Mr. J A E Aggett re: the court case against Lieutenant Whitehead & Sergeant Erasmus, 1983.

 

a newsclipping from the Rand Daily Mail, 9/2/1982.

C4

Statements & Affidavits

 

(includes some correspondence with the attorneys and an outline of an opposing affidavit.)

 

Neil’s statements while in detention marked:

 

FF2 - 25th to 28th Jan. 1982

 

FF3 - 28th to 31st Jan. 1982

 

FF4 - 28th to 31st Jan. 1982

 

FF5 - 1st to 4th Feb. 1982

 

Aggett, John A E

 

Ames, Francis R

 

Anderson, Dr. Neil (a reference letter)

 

Breytenbach, Yvette

 

Cachalia, Firoze

 

Chikane, Frank

 

Coleman, Keith

 

Floyd, Elizabeth

 

Hogan, Barbara

 

Lerumo, Thabo

 

Lodge, Tom

 

Maphato, Akila

 

Marcus, Gilbert J

 

Mntonga, Eric M

 

Momoniat, Ismail

 

Naidoo, Pramanathan

 

Nanabhai, Shirish

 

Narsoo, Montgomery

 

Ndou, Samson

 

Njikelana, Sisa

 

Smithers, Maurice

 

Theron, Jan Pierre

 

van Heerden, Auret

C5

Judgement  -  a printed copy of the Inquest proceedings and the final judgement.

C6

File containing the record of the Inquest by Bell, Dewar & Hall.

C7

Video Cassette of a recording of the London Thames TV programme “TV EYE” taking a satirical look at the Inquest proceedings.

D.

NEWSCLIPPINGS

D1

February 1982 to 1983

D2

“South African Pressclips” titled:-

 

“The Aggett Inquest”

 

“Repression Focus” - Part 1:  Detentions

 

 - Part 2:  Bannings & Trials

D3

Scrapbooks numbered 1-14 for the years 1982 - 1996 (1 scrapbook unnumbered and undated.)

E.

VARIOUS REPORTS & ARTICLES

 

re: Detention, Solitary Confinement & Torture in South Africa.

 

articles on detention in the St Martin in the Fields parish magazine “The Mustard Seed”& UCT NEWS, 1982.

 

“Any Hope for Detainees?” Lawyers for Human Rights Bulletin No. 2

 

“Report of the Rabie Commission on Security Legislation,” a press statement.

 

“Deaths in Detention” PFP COMMENT Sept,. 1977.

 

“Solitary Confinement” rough draft of an article?

 

The Biko Inquest. - a report by Sir Davis Napley

 

“A Study of Detention & Torture in South Africa” a preliminary report by Don Foster & Dianne Sandler.

F.

DETAINEES PARENT SUPPORT COMMITTEE (DPSC)

 

letters from attorneys Bell, Dewar & Hall to Jill Burger (nee Aggett)  re: visitation rights? to Neil Aggett while in detention., 14 - 21/1/1986.

 

“Proposed Study Programme” by DPSC

 

letter from Yvette Breytenbach to Jill Burger, 18/1/82 enclosing DESCOM LETTERS.

 

article from “The Star” 25/01/1982 titled “ Reaching.....Universal Justice”

 

Public Protest Meeting Notice re: Detentions

 

Programme of play “Four Paces By Two” presented by DPSC.

 

Detainees Support Committee National Conference, Johannesburg 3/4 July 1982

 

Typed list of questions concerning Neil Aggett’s death while in detention.

 

list of names and phone numbers of relatives? of detainees and members of the security police.

 

“Detainees Remember” & “Remember the Detainees” - stickers.

G.

MEDIA COVERAGE

 

re: Neil’s Death in Detention

 

requests for film rights.

 

Hilary Bletcher’s first draft of a play on the detention of Neil Aggett.

 

Julie Frederikse’s - “Africa: a different kind of war” containing Neil Aggett’s sworn Statement to a Police sergeant on his arrest/detention.

 

SABC Radio Programme Sales featuring the programme:-“Talk at Will” - 23/6/95 a talk show chaired by Will Bernard with studio guests Anton Harbour & Paul Erasmus.

 

TV EYE - a London TV programme. It features interviews with members of Neil’s family, Liz Floyd, Helen Suzman and others. (video cassette)

H.

TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMISSION (TRC)

 

cassette marked “Liz Floyd - Truth Commission, April 1996.”

 

list signed by Z. Barends, Head of the Investigative Unit, Western Cape TRC

 

article from the South African Medical Association Journal (SAMJ)

 

autopsy report by Dr Jan Botha

 

correspondence between Jill Burger, Dr Wendy Orr and Mr & Mrs Aggett.

J

PHOTOGRAPHS

 

album containing photographs of Neil Aggett as a child with his family in Kenya and later as an adult in South Africa.

K

MISCELLANEOUS

 

Booklet titled “Two Problems and a Suggestion”.

 

UNISA, Dept. of Criminology Police Science Guides I & III

 

copy of Section 22 of the General Law Amendment Act 62 of 1966.

 

plan of the prison cells?

 

“Mayo Clinic Diet”

 

Zulu, Alpheus Hamilton - “Dilemma of the Black South African” - a T B Davie Memorial Lecture 17/05/1972.

 

Hassan Howa president of the South African Council on Sport titled “Halt All Apartheid Sport”

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