Police confirm receipt of Campbell diamonds

2010-08-06 11:11

South African police have confirmed today that a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation gave them uncut diamonds he says he received from model Naomi Campbell.

Musa Zondi, spokesperson for the specialist police unit, The Hawks, said: “Yes, I’m confirming that. We sent them to the Diamond Board to have them authenticated and then we will make a decision after that.”

Jeremy Ratcliffe, once a chief executive officer for the foundation, said he took and kept three small uncut diamonds given to Campbell so that she would not get into trouble.

“Three small uncut diamonds were given to me by Naomi Campbell on the Blue Train on 26th September 1997,” said Ratcliffe.

The statement followed testimony by Campbell at The Hague war crimes tribunal that she thought it was former Liberian president Charles Taylor who had given her a bag of diamonds at a hotel.

Ratcliffe said he took them because he thought it might be illegal for her to take uncut diamonds out of the country.

Campbell had suggested that they could be of some benefit to the fund but Ratcliffe said he told her that he would not involve the fund in anything that could be illegal.

“In the end I decided I should just keep them,” said Ratcliffe.

He did not report it to anyone to protect the fund’s reputation, as well as that of former president Mandela and Campbell.

Ratcliffe said he had handed the diamonds to the South African authorities.

He did not want to say anything else as he considered the matter sub judice and said he was prepared to testify at The Hague if asked.

Foundation spokesperson Oupa Ngwenya said this was the first they had heard about the diamonds.

“We are not in receipt of the diamonds and there is no record of diamonds in our possession at the Nelson Mandela foundation,” said Ngwenya.

Blood diamonds get their name from their links to diamond mining practices that are inhumane and are undertaken to buy weapons for rebel groups or corrupt governments.

According to AFP, Taylor (62) is standing trial before the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the 1991-2001 Sierra Leone civil war.

Campbell has testified that she thought the “dirty looking stones” came from Taylor when they were given to her one night by two men.

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