How Mandela cop infiltrated suspected crime bosses

2017-03-13 16:06
Major-General Andre Lincoln (File, Supplied)

Major-General Andre Lincoln (File, Supplied)

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Cape Town - A police officer frequented nightclubs in Cape Town and cosied up to some of the country's most controversial suspected criminals as part of covert operations to infiltrate their networks.

These networks allegedly involved at least one Cabinet minister and senior police officers.

Major-General Andre Lincoln testified about this in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

In 1996, former president Nelson Mandela appointed Lincoln to head a special presidential investigative task unit. It would operate separately from the police and report to Mandela, former deputy president Thabo Mbeki, and then minister of safety and security Sydney Mufamadi.

Lincoln was tasked with investigating Cape Town-based Italian mafioso Vito Palazzolo and his links to government officials, police, and businessmen.

In court on Monday, Lincoln testified that aside from Palazzolo, he had probed underworld kingpins Cyril Beeka, Yuri "the Russian" Ulianitski, and German fugitive Jurgen Harksen.

Beeka, a former bouncer boss who was rumoured to have worked for the National Intelligence Agency, was murdered in Bellville South, Cape Town, on March 21, 2011.

Ulianitski and his daughter Yulia, 4, were murdered 10 years ago as he was driving his family from a restaurant in Cape Town, where he had celebrated his birthday.

No arrests had been made for any of these murders.

'Fictitious cover'

Lincoln testified that to infiltrate criminal networks he had "developed a legend" about himself.

"Creating a legend is creating a fictitious cover," he testified.

"All of them (those I was tasked with probing) were connected to the criminal underworld, to the nightlife in Cape Town, and to police in Cape Town."

Lincoln had spun a yarn that he was taking care of the deputy president's safety and security needs. He frequented nightclubs, and that was how he described his work to those he was secretly probing.

Lincoln testified about a report he had received with information incriminating well-known individuals.

What was alarming about it was that it detailed the activities of Palazzolo, allegedly the sixth-highest member of the Italian mafia, and he was based in Cape Town, he said.

"It was alleged he had on his payroll the head of organised crime, the [former arts and culture] minister Pallo Jordan and [then an organised crime head and assistant commissioner] Neels Venter."

'Investigation was totally covered up'

Earlier on Monday, Lincoln testified that an investigation into an alleged police plot to kill Mandela at his 1994 inauguration had been covered up.  

This was despite a hand-crafted gun, meant to have been used in the assassination, being found in a national police office at the time.

"That investigation went nowhere. That investigation was totally covered up. The hand-crafted rifle that was going to be used was hidden under the desk of a senior police officer in Pretoria," Lincoln testified.

Lincoln is claiming R15m in damages from the minister of safety and security (now the minister of police). He also wants judgment passed over, what his legal team has termed, the "malicious investigation and instigation of prosecution" against him.

He was previously convicted of several charges, relating to claims that he was corrupt and accepted money from Palazzolo to protect him. He was acquitted of these.

The case continues.

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

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