'NIA told me to plead guilty' - Mandela unit cop tells court

2017-03-13 17:23
Major-General Andre Lincoln (File, Supplied)

Major-General Andre Lincoln (File, Supplied)

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Cape Town - Police officers appointed by former president Nelson Mandela as part of an elite investigative unit to probe corruption were threatened by colleagues, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.

Major-General Andre Lincoln testified that he and other members of the Mandela-appointed presidential investigative task unit were persecuted by other police officers who were unhappy with what they were probing.

"There were threats to all the members of the presidential task team. They were all threatened that they will be charged," he said.

Lincoln was himself charged with 47 different crimes. He was found guilty of some, but then went on to be acquitted.

The case now being heard in the Western Cape High Court has to do with what Lincoln feels was his unfair prosecution.

In court on Monday, he said that a former colleague had admitted making allegations against Lincoln because he was "put under pressure by the old guard".

'Constantly harassed'

Lincoln also testified that, on the eve of giving evidence in a previous related matter, the then head of the intelligence agency had approached him and told him not to contest the evidence of the then safety and security minister Sydney Mufamadi.

"I was told to rather just plead guilty to some of the lesser charges. I was constantly harassed not to give evidence."

Lincoln said the head of the National Intelligence Agency in Cape Town, whom he simply referred to as Fraser, told him to plead guilty to the charges he faced.

"[I was told] I will be found guilty, but the agency will ensure I spend no time in prison."

Lincoln testified that Nollie Niehaus, who he understood would be prosecuting him, had also told him that he should not fight the charges against him, because "I was going to be found guilty".

He said opposing backgrounds and political views had at that stage created mistrust within the police.

The majority of officers were "white Afrikaner men of the old order".

Lincoln is claiming R15m in damages from the minister of safety and security (now the minister of police).

He also wants judgment passed over, what his legal team has termed, the "malicious investigation and instigation of prosecution" against him.

Plot to kill Mandela

In 1996, Mandela had appointed Lincoln to head up a special presidential investigative task unit, which would operate separately from the police and report to Mandela, former deputy president Thabo Mbeki and Mufamadi.

Lincoln was tasked with, among other matters, investigating Cape Town-based Italian mafioso Vito Palazzolo and his links to government officials, police and businessmen.

Earlier on Monday, he testified about a high level report he received with information incriminating high profile individuals.

"What was alarming in that report, the report detailed the activities of Palazzolo who was alleged to be the sixth highest ranking of the Italian mafia, and he was based in Cape Town," Lincoln said.

"It was alleged he had on his payroll the head of organised crime, the [former arts and culture] minister Pallo Jordan and [then an organised crime head and assistant commissioner] Neels Venter."

Lincoln had also testified that he was involved in a probe into an alleged plot by senior police officers to have Mandela killed at his 1994 inauguration.

He said this investigation was covered up and nothing ever came of it.

The case is set to continue on Tuesday.

Read more on:    police  |  cape town  |  corruption  |  crime

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