Mandela murder plot was 'covered up' - top cop

2017-03-13 12:51
Nelson Mandela stands at attention as the national anthem is played during his inauguration at the Union Building in Pretoria. (Walter Dhladhla, AFP)

Nelson Mandela stands at attention as the national anthem is played during his inauguration at the Union Building in Pretoria. (Walter Dhladhla, AFP)

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Cape Town - The investigation into a suspected plot by cops to kill former president Nelson Mandela at his 1994 inauguration was "covered up,” it emerged in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

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

"That investigation went nowhere," Major General Andre Lincoln testified on Monday.

He also said there was a push by certain police officers to stifle the investigation into the planned assassination.

Lincoln was testifying in a case in which he 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.

This case commenced on Monday.

Lincoln testified that one of the major investigations he was involved in was a probe into "the attempted assassination plot against the president (Mandela)".

"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," Lincoln said.

"We reopened the investigation with lots and lots of resistance.

"That was one of the investigations that was ultimately taken away, it went nowhere."

He said, in order to retrieve the handcraft rifle meant to kill Mandela, a search order had been obtained from the High Court in Pretoria - the first time such an order had been granted in South Africa for police to search their own colleagues.

Handcrafted sniper gun

In 1996, Mandela had appointed Lincoln to head up a special presidential investigative task unit, which 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, among other matters, investigating Cape Town-based Italian mafioso Vito Palazzolo and his links to government officials, police and businessman.

During an opening statement in the matter on Monday, Lincoln’s advocate Johann Nortje said Lincoln had also been appointed to head a covert intelligence operation dubbed Project Intrigue.

Nortje said information supplied to the presidential task unit included that there was a plot to assassinate Mandela at his inauguration in 1994.

"They found a handcrafted sniper gun in the office of the national commissioner," Nortje said.

This had, according to Nortje, upset then police commissioner George Fivaz.

Lincoln testified that, prior to 1994, he was responsible for gathering intelligence for the ANC in the Western Cape.

After 1994, he was absorbed into the police and the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee (Nicoc).

Nicoc’s functions included assessing the intelligence needs of government departments.

Lincoln had also been chairperson of directorate of covert collection.

This involved the military, National Intelligence Agency and the secret service.

'White Afrikaner men of the old order'

Lincoln testified that, when he was absorbed into the new police service, there was a lot of mistrust among members as they had opposing political views.

The majority of officers were "white Afrikaner men of the old order".

At one point, highly sensitive information was given to Lincoln.

"A director had approached me with a report. I saw the seriousness of it," Lincoln said.

"What was alarming in that report, the report detailed the activities of Palazzolo, who was alleged to be the sixth highest ranking of the Italian mafia and he was based in Cape Town…

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

Lincoln took this information to Mandela, Mbeki and Mufamadi.

Fivaz was not at the meeting where Lincoln had passed on the information about Jordan.

"Commissioner Venter was one of Fivaz’s people… [that’s why] it was too risky to file this report to Fivaz," Lincoln testified.

Mandela had, therefore, set up the presidential investigative task unit.

The case continues.

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  andre lincoln  |  cape town  |  crime

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