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Ex-apartheid security officer shocked to hear details of Neil Aggett's death

The doctor and trade unionist died in a holding cell in 1982 at the then John Voster Square, now known as the Johannesburg Central Police Station.

Former apartheid security branch officer Joseph Nyampule. Picture: Ewdin Ntshidi/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - A former apartheid security branch officer on Monday told the Neil Aggett inquiry how he only recently learned the details of the activist’s death.

The doctor and trade unionist died in a holding cell in 1982 at the then John Vorster Square, now known as the Johannesburg Central Police Station.

An apartheid inquiry concluded that he committed suicide, but his family believed he died at the hands of the police.

Joseph Nyampule detailed how he received complaints of assault and torture from political detainees during his time as an apartheid security branch officer.

Nyampule was responsible for, among other things, recording complaints from prisoners at the police station.

“Others would show me the visible injuries they had and tell me about how police were switching cigarettes on their flesh,” Nyampule said.

He recalled how some detainees could barely walk when they were brought back from interrogation.

Nyampule said this was how he learned that Aggett had died: “I only heard about it recently, when the investigating officer came to me about this inquest and I was shocked because it was the very first time to hear of that.”