Kingswood honours brave Neil Aggett
Neil Aggett attended Kingswood College from 1964 to 1970. In his matric year he was Head Prefect of Jacques House (at that stage a junior boys house). After matriculating with a first class pass, he studied medicine at UCT, graduating in1976. He did his internship at the Umtata General Hospital in the Transkei in 1977 and then moved on to work at Tembisa Hospital and later at Baragwanath Hospital. During this time he became increasingly concerned with the hardships endured by black South Africans under the apartheid regime. He abandoned his promising medical career and became involved in the black trade union movement, especially with the Transvaal branch of the Food and Canning Workers Union. He supported himself by doing night shifts in the casualty ward at Baragwanath. He was detained for "interrogation" by the Security Police in late 1981 and was found hanging in his cell at John Vorster Square on 5 February 1982.
Kingswood College sees this annual event named after him as a collective memorial to all those brave men and women who laid down their lives in the fight for human rights and social justice and hence the theme of our annual lecture.
In the Kingswood Chapel, there is a stain glass window placed there by family and his many friends, some of his schoolmasters and contemporaries out of affection and respect for this brave man who placed his life on the line for what he believed in. The window was unveiled in November 1990 by Neil's father and mother in the presence of his brother, the Headmaster, representatives of the School and some contemporaries.
Click here for a picture and description of the window
The Neil Aggett Memorial Lecture 2015 was delivered by Judge Albie Sachs. The lecture, usually held to co-incide with Heritage Day in September, was brought forward to July to accommodate Judge Sachs who was in Grahamstown to participate in the National Arts Festival. Judge Sachs spoke off the cuff, and there is no copy of his lecture. He kept the Kingswood pupils spellbound as he related his experiences of detention, torture by the security police and his elation on being released. He sang the songs that kept him sane while in solitary confinement, with his own lyrics adapted to popular tunes like "I'll be loving you, always". Click here for more about his lecture.
The Neil Aggett Memorial Lecture has become an annual event at Kingswood College when speakers are asked to address the theme "Standing up against injustice". Previous speakers have been Dr Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry, also a former Kingswood pupil, Rhodes Vice-chancellor Dr Saleem Badat and Professor Peter Vale, Nelson Mandela Chair of Politics at Rhodes. In 2014, Professor Jonathan Jansen Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UOFS) was the guest speaker. In 2015 Judge Albie Sachs as the guest speaker.
For copies of the previous lectures, click here :
Dr Liz Floyd - Neil Aggett Memorial Lecture 2010 (To see footage of Dr Floyd's lecture, click here to visit the Kingswood Reunion 2010 Facebook page where the lecture is posted in 4 parts.)
Mr Jan Theron - Neil Aggett Memorial Lecture 2011
(The lecture for 2008 was cancelled as the speaker, Professor Peter Vale was unable to deliver his lecture due to health reasons.)