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Dates of existence
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 February 1982.