National police intentionally derailed Palazzolo probe - top cop

2017-03-14 12:58
Vito Palazzolo. (File, AP)

Vito Palazzolo. (File, AP)

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Cape Town - National police purposefully crippled a high-level and top secret investigation into mafioso Vito Palazzolo by blowing the cover of a covert officer, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

Major General Andre Lincoln testified how two police members went out of their way to derail this investigation.

At the time it was alleged former arts and culture minister Pallo Jordan was among those on Palazzolo's payroll.

“At the time they (the police) knew Mr Palazzolo didn’t know I was investigating him. They went out of their way to convince him I’m investigating him, that I’m not a friend,” he testified.

Lincoln said two police members, a director and the national head of legal services, had been flown from Johannesburg to tell this to Palazzolo. At the time he had been under the impression that Lincoln was an ally.

'Malicious investigation'

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 safety and security minister Sydney Mufamadi.

Lincoln’s tasks included investigating Palazzolo’s links to government officials, police and businessmen.

Instead, he was arrested on an array of charges, which he believes were fabricated, linked to Palazzolo.

Lincoln is therefore 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 called the "malicious investigation and instigation of prosecution" against him.

In court on Tuesday, Lincoln said when he was instructed to probe Palazzolo, he did so by cosying up to him under the pretence of friendship.

“At the particular period in the investigation Mr Palazzolo had no idea I was investigating him,” he testified.

“He was going to Angola on a business trip where certain business deals would be discussed.”

Palazzolo had said he would cover Lincoln’s expenses. It was decided the R16 000 would be paid back to Palazzolo for the trip.

Lincoln testified he had official permission to go on the trip from people including the then national police commissioner George Fivaz and Mufamadi. The two had insisted that Palazzolo be refunded for the trip.

Lincoln said he handed the money to Palazzolo’s secretary at the time. Palazzolo later submitted an affidavit saying he was repaid, he said.

However, he was later charged for the trip as it was claimed Palazzolo was never repaid.

Lincoln testified that two national police members then turned Palazzolo against him.

Palazzolo, who was based in South Africa and under investigation for years, was never arrested in this country. He was detained in Thailand in 2012 as he was returning to the country.

Palazzolo is now jailed in Italy, where he had been wanted since 2009 for Mafia-related links.

The case continues. 

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  thabo mbeki  |  crime

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