Ex-Mandela cop may recover costs of being 'framed'

2018-10-17 12:04
Major-General Andre Lincoln outside the Western Cape High Court. (Caryn Dolley/News24)

Major-General Andre Lincoln outside the Western Cape High Court. (Caryn Dolley/News24)

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The police officer mandated by then-president Nelson Mandela to head up an elite investigative unit in 1996, but who was instead criminally charged because of colleagues he believed were intent on framing him, may recover what he would have earned had his career proceeded unhindered.

It is understood that Major General Andre Lincoln – who previously made high-level claims, including that some cops were plotting to murder Mandela in 1994 – may have been in line to become the Western Cape’s police commissioner in 1999.

But investigations conducted by his colleagues into his actions, which culminated in him being criminally charged, prevented this.

In 2017, following years of court proceedings to try and clear his name, Lincoln pushed ahead with a civil claim, wanting R15m in damages from the then-minister of safety and security (now police minister), and wanting it ruled that his former colleagues had acted against him with malice.

It emerged in September 2017, in the Western Cape High Court, that he had been unsuccessful, but he appealed this ruling.

Two-decades of legal wrangling

On Monday, in the same court, it was ruled that Lincoln, following a roughly two-decade legal battle, was mostly successful in this appeal.

Two judges ruled that Lincoln’s appeal should be upheld, while one disagreed.

However, because the two judges found in Lincoln’s favour, he now stands to receive the earnings he should have received had the prosecution against him never gone ahead.

It is not yet clear what this amount would be.

Lincoln’s advocate, Johnny Nortje, who has been involved in the matter since at least 2002, confirmed Lincoln may recover what he could have earned had his career proceeded without prosecution.

The success of Lincoln’s appeal, therefore, means his massive legal battle has probably concluded.

In 1996, then-president Mandela appointed Lincoln to head an elite team, the presidential investigation task unit.

This unit had been tasked with investigating high-level suspected crimes and individuals, including Cape Town-based Italian mafioso Vito Palazzolo and his links to government officials, police and businessmen.

Underworld probe

The unit was also tasked with looking into suspected underworld figures, including slain bouncer kingpin Cyril Beeka and former Hard Livings gang boss Rashied Staggie.

These investigations had been under the name Operation Intrigue.

But Lincoln instead went on to be criminally charged because it was suspected he was working with Palazzolo.

He went on trial in 1998 and, in 2003, Lincoln was convicted of 17 of the 47 criminal charges – including fraud, theft and misusing a safe house – and he was discharged from the police.

Lincoln then appealed the conviction and, in 2009, was acquitted on all the charges.

In 2010, he was reinstated into the police.

'Set up'

Lincoln believed, due to the critical investigations he was busy with, which involved probing influential individuals, that other senior police officers had set him up and had him criminally charged.

Before 1994, Lincoln had been an operative for the African National Congress (ANC) and had gathered intelligence in the Western Cape.

Afterwards he was absorbed into the police.

Throughout the civil claim, which started being heard in 2017, he maintained that apartheid-era police officers, "the old guard", had been targeting "the new guard", officers who were appointed after South Africa became a democracy in 1994.

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

He believed former policeman Leonard Knipe – who was in the police service between 1965 and 2002, when he retired with the rank of major-general – had been one of the officers driving the malicious prosecution against him.

Lincoln believed this had included coercing witnesses to make statements against him.

Opposing views

In Monday’s appeal ruling, Judge Ashley Binns-Ward found that Lincoln’s appeal should be dismissed with costs and that Lincoln had failed to make out a case.

"There was... no evidence to prove that the investigators did not believe in the truth of the content of the witness statements that they had procured," Binns-Ward said.

However, Judge Rosheni Allie’s view of the matter sided with Lincoln.

"Knipe’s views on Operation Intrigue shows that he couldn’t have approached the investigation of the (presidential investigative task unit) with an open mind," she found.

"Knipe’s testimony, that he was appointed to the investigation because he was 'neutral', rings hollow in the light of his views and conduct."

A second judge concurred with Allie.

Among the charges Lincoln was previously convicted and acquitted of, was drunk driving and fleeing the scene of an accident.

Drunk driving matter

This related to a July 1997 incident involving him crashing into stationary vehicles in Cape Town.

It was found in the Western Cape High Court on Monday that, while successful in the rest of his appeal, he had not proved malicious prosecution for drunk driving and fleeing the scene of an accident.

Lincoln previously testified in the court that he had been with figures, including Beeka, before the crash and had phoned Beeka afterwards.

He also testified that he had infiltrated those he was investigating and this had included frequenting nightclubs they had gone to.

During the 2017 civil matter, Lincoln had also made claims relating to an array of other alleged plots and crimes.

READ: Mandela murder plot was 'covered up' - top cop

Lincoln claimed that an investigation into a suspected plot by police officers to kill Mandela at his 1994 inauguration had been suppressed.

"That investigation was totally covered up... the handcrafted rifle that was going to be used was hidden under the desk of a senior police officer in Pretoria," he had testified.

Lincoln had also claimed there was a group of police officers that "cleaned" crime scenes, including after the killing of seven anti-apartheid activists in Gugulethu in 1986, and after the bombing of Community House in Salt River in 1987.

He named Knipe as being among the group, but Knipe denied it.

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

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