Was probe into Mandela murder plot purposefully put on ice?

2017-03-11 19:34
Mandela raises clenched fist, arriving to address mass rally, a few days after his release from jail, 25 February 1990, in  Bloemfontein. (Trevor Samson, AFP)

Mandela raises clenched fist, arriving to address mass rally, a few days after his release from jail, 25 February 1990, in Bloemfontein. (Trevor Samson, AFP)

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Cape Town – Worries about plans to quash an investigation into an alleged plot by police to have former president Nelson Mandela murdered at his inauguration in 1994 were initially expressed more than a decade ago.

On Friday, News24 reported that more details about the alleged plot to have a sniper assassinate Mandela were expected to surface during a court case set to start in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

Major-General Andre Lincoln, who in 1996 was appointed by Mandela as the head of the presidential investigation task unit, is claiming R15m in damages from the minister of safety and security (now the minister of police) in the long-running matter.

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

Highly-placed sources, who declined to be named, told News24 the case is set to lift the lid on sensational information about apparently stagnant investigations.

Lincoln was discharged from the police service in October 2003 and reinstated in June 2010 after being acquitted of charges he effectively believes were fabricated against him because of his access to Mandela.

Allegations never properly investigated

He had been tasked, by Mandela, to investigate mafioso Vito Palazzolo.

In a transcript of court proceedings, in News24’s possession and which date back to 2002, details of the Mandela assassination plot and worries about it are included.

These transcripts are from previous court proceedings which had to do with an appeal by Lincoln.

At the time Peter Viljoen, better known by the first name Piet and then a former member of the presidential task unit who had also investigated Palazzolo, had testified that he was concerned that the allegations into the Mandela murder plot were never properly investigated.

"I am just as worried and yesterday afternoon I received a call from Commissioner De Beer, our head of detectives. He is just as worried."

Viljoen had testified that he had packs of notes with information that he had sent in which he expressed his concerns.

"But maybe the answer is that they didn’t want us to investigate at that time," he had said.

Asked who he meant by "they", Viljoen replied, "Fivaz them".

He was referring to then-national police commissioner George Fivaz.

Tried to destabilise 1994 elections

Viljoen testified that if the murder plot investigation was so important and it was known he was probing it, it was "a good excuse" to then use the Mandela-mandated Palazzolo probe to divert him.

After Lincoln's arrest, Viljoen was ordered to probe Palazzolo.

Palazzolo, who at one point lived in SA, was arrested in Thailand in 2012 as he was travelling back to SA.

He is now jailed in Italy where in 2009 he was sentenced in absentia to nine years' imprisonment for having an association with the mafia.

Viljoen had testified that information had previously surfaced about senior police officers and that they tried to destabilise the first democratic elections in 1994.

"It looked as if information was obtained that someone, a sharpshooter, would shoot President Mandela at his inauguration.

"With the information we got, we established that the firearm to be used, was in a certain office of [the] organised crime [unit]."

Viljoen had testified that information about the firearm was correct as the rifle was seized in a secret office of the unit in Pretoria.

At the time, he said he hoped the matter would be investigated further.

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  cape town  |  crime

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