• Short Summary


    The first anniversary of the death in detention of trade unionist Dr Neil Aggett was commemorated at a meeting in Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg on February 5.

  • Description

    FEBRUARY 5, 1982 (VISLIB)
    1. GV Newspaper poster saying "Trade Union detainee dies in cell" 0.05
    2. TV, LV & CU Crowds marching through Johannesburg streets chanting with poster protesting Aggett's death (4 shots) 0.23
    FEBRUARY 15, 1982:
    3. SV EXTERIOR Aggett's coffin being placed in hearse 0.31
    4. GV Crowd surrounds hearse 0.34
    5. GV PAN INTERIOR Service to commemorate Aggett's death. People singing (2 shots) 1.10
    6. SCU Reverend Peter Storey speaking (SOT) 1.29
    7. GV Congregation standing for a minute's silence (2 shots) 1.38
    8. GV Poster for Neil Aggett reading "Lived for his country died in detention" 1.41
    9. SCU Dr Liz Floyd, formerly Aggett's girl friend, speaking to congregation (SOT) (3 shots) 2.40
    10. GV Congregation applauding 2.42
    11. CU Jill Berger, Aggett's sister, speaking (SOT) 2.57
    12. SV David Webster, member of the Detainees' Parents' Support Committee, speaking (SOT) 3.33
    13. GV PAN Congregation singing 3.57
    STOREY: (SEQUENCE SIX): "Powers have been given to the police which makes it impossible for the truth to be known, and confident in that knowledge there will be those who take advantage of that. In the Bible there is a phrase which says that men preferred the darkness because their deeds were evil."
    FLOYD: (SEQUENCE NINE): "He supported the black union movement, not only his own union, and worked hard for unity amongst the union. He also supported the problems that union members faced outside the work place. And those in this country are enormous and union organisers, office bearers are always called on to respond to the problems their membership are presenting them. We therefore come together to commemorate Neil to celebrate and appreciate him, because there comes a time when that is what one must do to appreciate what he lived and worked for. To mourn his death under very distressing circumstances and to do this together, because only in doing it together around Neil can we regain the solidarity, the courage and conviction to continue with the kind of work that he was doing, knowing that if we do it well we may face the same things that Neil faced in detention."
    BERGER: (SEQUENCE 11): "One cannot feel totally despondent knowing that there are people in this world like Neil who are prepared to lead the sort of life he led dedicated to the well being of others and to die the sort of death he died uncompromising to the last."
    WEBSTER: (SEQUENCE 12): "To those who collaborate now with Botha and his reforms, we ask you to be careful. Because you are making yourselves a part of the apartheid machine. Let us not delude ourselves. Botha, the Conservative Party and the HMP look like adversaries in the press, and the press does a good job of making them look like they are in opposite camps, but they all have one goal together. They want to preserve white domination and prefer the African domination over the whole of South Africa and all of its people. The only thing they disagree about is how to go about it."

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved


    The first anniversary of the death in detention of trade unionist Dr Neil Aggett was commemorated at a meeting in Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg on February 5. Dr Aggett, the first white to die while in detention in South Africa, was found dead at security police headquarters in Johannesburg on February 5, 1982. Police said he had hung himself, but this was disputed by friends and relatives of Dr Aggett. At the news of his death, families and friends of people detained under South Africa's anti-terrorist laws converged on security police headquarters in Johannesburg. His funeral eight days later turned into an anti-government demonstration. Due to a huge public outcry an inquiry was held into Dr Aggett's death. On December 21, 1982, the inquest found that Aggett had hanged himself and security police who held him were blameless for his death. At the commemoration meeting, the Reverend Peter Storey said because of powers given to the police, it was not possible to know the truth. Dr. Liz Floyd, who also addressed the meeting on February 5, was particularly outspoken about the suicide verdict. Dr Floyd, formerly Aggett's girlfriend, was detained at the same time as him and was freed without being charged. She said he supported black unions and had worked for union unity. The sister of the dead man, Jill Berger said her brother had been dedicated to the well being of others, while David Webster of the Detainees Parents' Support Committee claimed the Botha government is trying to preserve white domination in South Africa and called for non-collaboration with government reforms.

    Dr Aggett was the Transvaal secretary of the mainly black African Food and Canning Workers' Union. He had been detained by security police in November 1981, during a swoop on trade unionists, students and church leaders.


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