Former police commissioner ‘never gave ex-Mandela cop clear mandate’

2017-05-15 21:07
Major General André Lincoln. (Netwerk24)

Major General André Lincoln. (Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - Former national police commissioner George Fivaz on Monday denied failing to properly brief a senior officer former president Nelson Mandela chose to head an elite investigative unit.

He told the Western Cape High Court on Monday that in 1996, he summoned Major General Andre Lincoln to his office, informed him of the planned unit and made arrangements to set up capacity.

The court earlier heard how Fivaz soon encountered “numerous hiccups” with Lincoln’s line of reporting and received complaints about unit members not following rules.

Fivaz was testifying in a R15m damages claim Lincoln had brought against the minister of safety and security (now the minister of police) for alleged malicious prosecution.

Lincoln was arrested when criminal allegations against him and others in the unit surfaced. He faced 47 criminal charges and was convicted of 17 in 2003. He appealed and was acquitted of all the charges.

Johann Nortje, for Lincoln, said on Monday that a handwritten letter by Mandela noted that his client must be relocated to Cape Town to take over all responsibility of the unit and manage the entire operation.

Fivaz said this was correct for a commander appointment, but had nothing to do with the line of reporting.

“I think this type of understanding could most probably be explained because Mr Andre Lincoln was a very inexperienced person at the time, without any background in managing very serious investigations,” he said.

Line of command

He made it clear in his first meeting that Lincoln should report to him, not Mandela, as it was a special arrangement.

Nortje referred to official correspondence that Lincoln addressed to the deputy president and safety and security minister at the end of 1996.

Fivaz replied that it was impossible to stop officers from writing to the president or deputy president.

“My opinion is that the letter was wrongly addressed and maybe deliberately wrongly addressed to the deputy president and minister, well knowing that that is not the line of command.”

Nortje put it to Fivaz that if a clear direction or mandate had been given to the unit or Lincoln from the outset, there would not have been any problems.

Fivaz replied that he was confused as the unit members were not recruits from a police college.

“They were well aware of what could and should be done.”

Nortje told him that Umkhonto we Sizwe members who were integrated into the SA Police Service never had the luxury of receiving proper training.

Fivaz said that was a “lame excuse” as the MK members were very disciplined, had their own commanders and knew stepping out of the line of command would not be tolerated.

He was excused from the stand on Monday afternoon.

The case continues on Tuesday.

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  andre lincoln  |  cape town  |  crime  |  police

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