Attempted murder probes detailed in ex-Mandela cop’s trial

2017-04-25 16:56
Major-General Andre Lincoln leaves the High Court. (Caryn Dolley, News24)

Major-General Andre Lincoln leaves the High Court. (Caryn Dolley, News24)

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Cape Town - A former high-ranking policeman has testified about how a top cop chosen by former president Nelson Mandela to head an elite investigative unit was probed for attempted murder.

And about how the cop himself was wounded in a shooting in a possible attempt on his life.

Leonard Knipe, who was in the police service between 1965 and 2002 when he retired under the rank of major-general, testified in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.

He was testifying in the civil trial involving Major-General Andre Lincoln.

Lincoln is claiming R15m in damages from the minister of safety and security (now the minister of police) for what he has termed being maliciously prosecuted.

'Cleaning' crime scenes

Previously, Lincoln testified that he believed Knipe was part of a group of police officers that "cleaned" crime scenes, including after the killing of seven anti-apartheid activists in Gugulethu in 1986, and the bombing of Community House in Salt River in 1987.

Lincoln believes Knipe, who was tasked with probing the presidential investigative unit, had been used to tarnish his image because his work included probing high-ranking officers.

Earlier on Tuesday, an application for absolution brought on by the legal team of the police minister, who is opposing Lincoln's claim, was rejected in the court.

Afterward Knipe was then called by the team to testify.

He confirmed he had been tasked with probing Lincoln and others in the presidential investigative task unit.

The then-national police commissioner George Fivaz had instructed him to do so.

Fivaz, according to advocate Craig Webster who is representing the police minister, may testify in the matter at a later stage.

Knipe said he knew the unit he was tasked with probing was elite.

"The mandate [to head up this unit], which had been given to Brigadier Lincoln, had been given by no lesser person than the president of this country," Knipe testified.

Attempted murders

Possible charges he was investigating against Lincoln included attempted murder, relating to the shooting of an individual named as Mr Oelofse, a member of the public.

Oelofse had alleged Lincoln had fired shots at him at a public gathering.

Knipe said the director of public prosecutions had declined to prosecute in the matter.

The court heard there was also an apparent attempt on Lincoln's life and he was shot on June 8, 1997.

It was put to Knipe that his colleague Piet Rossouw was investigated for this.

Knipe said Rossouw was aware of the incident.

He testified about Lincoln being arrested in 1998 after the investigation into him ran for about five or six months.

"A warrant for his arrest had been obtained from the magistrate in Cape Town on the recommendation of the prosecutor."

Knipe said he never booked Lincoln into the holding cells at the Cape Town police station, but instead he, Lincoln and Rossouw played a game in a recreation room.

It was after hours and a magistrate was called in to deal with the matter.

Shortly after Lincoln's arrest, Knipe was transferred to Pretoria as he was promoted.

Cordial relationship

Knipe described his relationship with Lincoln as "professional" and said he had no animosity toward him.

In 1996, Mandela tasked Lincoln with heading up a presidential investigative task unit to probe Cape Town-based Italian mafioso Vito Palazzolo and his links to government officials, police and businessman.

But criminal allegations against Lincoln and others in the unit then surfaced, leading to Lincoln's arrest.

Following Lincoln's 1998 arrest, in November 2002 he was convicted on 17 of 47 charges against him.

In 2009, he successfully appealed the convictions.

He believes he was "maliciously prosecuted" because of his direct access to Mandela and investigations into senior policemen.

The case resumes on Wednesday.

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

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