Divide between 'old guard' and 'new guard' cops detailed in court

2017-03-24 16:03
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 - Friction between the so-called "old guard" and "new guard" of the police - which apparently still exists, despite decades having lapsed - is a focal point in a mammoth case playing out in the Western Cape High Court.

The civil trial, which commenced on March 13, was initiated by Major-General Andre Lincoln, who is claiming R15m in damages from the minister of safety and security (now the minister of police) for what he has termed malicious prosecution.

Lincoln has been in the witness stand for nearly two weeks and his testimony has highlighted underlying tensions between former apartheid-era police officers and those appointed around the time Nelson Mandela became president in 1994.

News24 understands that some of the officers appointed under apartheid are still working in the police service.

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

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

He was discharged from the police in 2003, but reinstated in 2010 after being acquitted.

More than a decade of court proceedings has led up to the case currently playing out in the High Court.

Lincoln has named two former senior policemen, Leonard Knipe and Piet Rossouw, as having followed the orders of the then-national police commissioner George Fivaz, to have him framed.

Old and new

The "old guard" of police he referred to while testifying were mostly officers appointed under apartheid, before 1994. The "new guard" were those appointed after 1994.

He testified that prior to 1994, he was an operative for the African National Congress and responsible for gathering intelligence in the Western Cape.

After that, Lincoln became a member of the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee and was "meant to identify or interpret threats relevant to the public of South Africa".

In 1996, he was then hand-picked by Mandela to head the elite investigative unit.

During his testimony over two weeks, Lincoln referred to the police "old order", made up of white Afrikaans males.

He described apartheid-era police officers as poor investigators.

This week, Lincoln testified about an apartheid-era group of officers dubbed "Club 35".

"Club 35 looked after the interests of their own. It was exclusive... It was 35 senior-ranking white Afrikaans police officers at the time," he had said.

It was put to him that there was nothing sinister about the group, which was for socialising.

But Lincoln denied this.

"We know the old guard was capable of lying."

'Forced' confessions

On Thursday, he went on to testify: "In the old South Africa, crime detection consisted of the confession or the pointing out and/or both. A confession in the old South Africa would not be voluntary, it would be extracted. And it'd be various ways to extract it."

A dated document read out in the court earlier in the trial, and elaborated on by Lincoln throughout his testimony, touched on previous allowances made for officers when they were away from headquarters.

It listed the different accommodation that would be provided for whites and black officers.

The document left some police officers in the public gallery shaking their heads, muttering that despite having experienced this, it still came as a shock to hear about it.

According to the document, white officers would have been provided with a properly equipped caravan, including a gas stove and fridge, to be used by one or more officers.

Or their accommodation would have been a suitable tent or prefab hut, with a mat for the ground, a bed, mattress, table, cupboard and chair.

This would have included a gas stove, gas refrigerator, washing facilities and a lighting supply.

However, black officers would have been provided with a suitable tent and a foam mattress, along with a groundcover on which to put the mattress, a cooking pot, water container, washing facilities and lighting.

They would not have been provided with cupboards and furniture like their white counterparts.

The case is set to resume on Tuesday.

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

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