Bulelani Ngcuka was 'very competent' - former prosecutor in ex-Mandela cop's case

2017-05-11 14:34
Andre Lincoln (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

Andre Lincoln (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town – A former state prosecutor has defended the reputation of several senior ex-prosecution bosses and has challenged anyone to better investigate a case against a policeman who was hand-picked by Nelson Mandela to head an elite investigations unit.

Andre Bouwer, who previously prosecuted a matter against Major-General Andre Lincoln, spoke passionately in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday about the probe and some of those linked to it.

He was testifying in the civil trial brought on by Lincoln.

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

He was arrested when criminal allegations against him and others in the unit then surfaced.

Lincoln had faced 47 criminal charges and was convicted of 17 of those in 2003.

He appealed and in 2009 was acquitted of all the charges.

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

'Competent' prosecuting heads

Bouwer on Thursday defended his decisions, and the characters of several former prosecutions figures relating to the case Lincoln had previously faced.

Bouwer said that Bulelani Ngcuka, appointed by then-deputy president Thabo Mbeki, was "very competent" as the national director of public prosecutions.

Ngcuka, who stepped down as National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss in 1994, was the first prosecuting head to accuse Jacob Zuma, who at the time was deputy president, of corruption.

But Ngcuka had reportedly said he had decided not to prosecute as he did not believe this would end successfully.

On Thursday, Bouwer said he rated Ngcuka highly as the prosecution director.

Bouwer also said Frank Khan, the former Western Cape director of public prosecutions, was "competent and astute".

He described Nollie Niehaus, a senior member of the province’s director of public prosecutions’ staff, as competent.

Bouwer defended decisions he had made when he was prosecutor in the matter against Lincoln.

"We can stand here for however long and I will not concede that there is no case," he said.

Complicated case

Bouwer, who was under cross-examination, said the case against Lincoln had not been simple.

"The case was complicated by that we do not report to [former national police commissioner George] Fivaz, we report to Deputy President Mbeki," he said.

"I challenge anybody to come [conduct] this investigation better. Anybody."

Advocate Johann Nortje, who is representing Lincoln, told Bouwer he was not intent on attacking him or the justice department.

He apologised if it came across that he had attacked Bouwer's integrity.

'Strong' drunk driving case

Lincoln had previously faced a charge of driving under the influence and another of leaving an accident scene after the car he was driving ploughed into two other cars on the opposite side of a street.

This happened during June about two decades ago.

On Thursday, Bouwer said he was shocked Lincoln had been acquitted of the charges.

"I couldn’t believe it."

He said he had dealt with hundreds of drunk driving cases.

"This is probably one of the strongest I ever had," Bouwer said, referring to the Lincoln crash.

He said "gang boss" Cyril Beeka, who was murdered in 2011, and his henchman had been first on the scene.

Instead of taking Lincoln to hospital, Bouwer said, they had taken him to a Spur restaurant for breakfast.

"Does it not offend you that this man was acquitted?" he asked emphatically.

"It offends me deeply."

Nortje said the emphatic manner in which Bouwer was testifying showed his "overzealousness" to prosecute Lincoln.

Bouwer responded that he was passionate about justice.

The case continues on Monday.

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

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