Mandela-appointed cop sabotaged covert op, court hears

2017-03-15 13:00
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 policeman appointed to an elite investigative unit by former president Nelson Mandela allegedly broke the law by exposing its covert operations, the Western Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

Major-General Andre Lincoln, who had headed the special unit, testified that another investigator, Abraham Smith, went out of his way to trip his work up.

In 1996, Mandela tasked Lincoln with leading a presidential investigative task unit to probe Cape Town-based Italian mafioso Vito Palazzolo.

Lincoln was tasked with, among other matters, investigating Palazzolo's links to government officials, police, and businessmen.

He was instead arrested on an array of charges linked to Palazzolo. He was later acquitted.

'Broke the law'

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

In court on Tuesday, it emerged that Smith, another former member of the presidential task unit, had written a letter in 1997 detailing a range of allegations about Lincoln.

On Wednesday, Lincoln testified that Smith was among those in the police who had targeted him.

"Smith broke the law. He exposed a covert operation that should never have been exposed," he said.

"The eagerness and malice to have me prosecuted created the conditions for Smith to depose of the affidavit the way he does."

Lincoln said rival investigators intent on tarnishing his name had tried to "nail" him on anything they could, including a traffic fine.

"I don't think anyone has ever been investigated for that extent for a traffic fine."

Lincoln testified that, at one stage, an Italian delegation had travelled to Cape Town, intending to return to their country with Palazzolo. He said they had wanted this "at all costs".

"Their actions here were not legal."

There had previously been extradition proceedings against Palazzolo in the High Court. Lincoln said he was one of two police officers who had testified in favour of his extradition.

Numerous civil servants, including then-senior policeman Leonard Knipe, had testified in favour of Palazzolo staying in SA, he said.

Lincoln believed Knipe, acting on the orders of the then-national police commissioner George Fivaz, had helped set up the "malicious" prosecution against him.

Knipe sat in the public gallery in the courtroom on Wednesday.

Palazzolo is currently jailed in Italy. In 2009, an Italian court sentenced him in absentia to nine years' imprisonment for his Mafia links.

He was arrested in Thailand in 2012 on an Interpol notice as he was travelling back to SA.

Lincoln's case continues.

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

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