Neil Aggett inquest: Apartheid police tampered with SACP documents - Ronnie Kasrils

Neil Aggett inquest: Apartheid police tampered with SACP documents - Ronnie Kasrils

Johannesburg - Former minister of intelligence and anti-apartheid activist Ronnie Kasrils has detailed how apartheid security operatives tempered with the documents that were distributed by the liberation movement in a bid to misrepresent the messages they sent to the public and activists.

Kasrils was on Wednesday taking the stand at the inquest into the death of fellow activist Dr Neil Aggett, who died while in detention in 1982.

Aggett, a medical doctor and trade unionist by the time of his death, was found hanging in his cell at the John Vorster Square police station after days of severe torture and his death was declared a suicide with no foul play by a previous apartheid inquest.

Kasrils told the inquiry how one of the documents he helped pen for the SACP from exile in London was amended and falsified by the security police to include an instruction for activists to  “rather commit suicide rather than betray the organisation”, in an apparent bid to justify the deaths of activists in detention.

He said the fabricated documents also included instruction that detainees must act insane and tell lies while being subjected to interrogation and torture.

“The document is not an accurate document as published. There are inconsistencies and clearly additions in the last parts of this document which was not in the document that was produced by the SACP,” Kasrils said.

He said the SACP had never encouraged or issued any instructions for its activists to commit suicide.

“To make statements such as this would be like saying straight to the security police, the media and so on that we do tell our people to commit suicide, to lie and so on and from that point of view, this could never be the case,” he said.

He said the SACP would never issue operational instructions to its ground forces about to outwit the enemy through a public document which was known to be within the reach of the security police.

He said the falsified parts of the document had poor English which made it clear that it was penned by an Afrikaans speaking person.

“The question of translation would come in here is that any capable translator will tell you that that is the way Afrikaans is written,” he said.

He said the most glaring feature that the document was falsified was that it was written 'Issued by the Communist Party of SA' while the party had changed its name to “SA Communist Party” in 1953 when it was re-established.

Kasrils is part of a long list of witnesses who are billed to testify at the inquiry, which is going to continue until the end of next month.

Some of the prominent activists were detained at the same time as Aggett and have already testified at the inquiry. Testimonies were heard by Treasury deputy director general Ismail Momoniat, cleric Rev Frank Chikane and academic Professor Firoz Cachaila.  Cachaila detailed how he was “finished”, “a zombie”, “distressed”, “depressed”, “injured” and weakened, just moments before they learnt of Aggett's death.

The activists accused the security police who were interrogating and torturing Aggett of killing him and covering it up.

Political Bureau