The mafioso, the ex-Mandela cop and the 'malicious' police: Case heads to court

2017-03-08 15:04
High court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

High court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Details about decades-old investigations into top police officers, mafioso Vito Palazzolo, and the "malicious" treatment of the then-head of former president Nelson Mandela's investigative unit, are expected to emerge in a sensational court case.

Major-General Andre Lincoln is claiming R15m in damages from the minister of safety and security (now the minister of police) in a long-running matter expected to proceed in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

He also wants judgment passed over, what his legal team has termed, the "malicious investigation and instigation of prosecution" against him.

Details of underhanded investigations within the police service, and how politics influenced these as South Africa was in the early years of democracy, are expected to surface during the court case.

A particulars of claim in the matter said that, in January 2010, Lincoln had informed the safety and security minister about the civil action he intended taking.

It said that Mandela had appointed Lincoln as the head of the presidential investigation task unit in June 1996 "to investigate allegations of police corruption in the Western Cape and the alleged activities of Mr Roberto [Vito] Palazzolo, who was a suspected member of the Sicilian Mafia [Cosa Nostra]".

'Unlawfully investigated and arrested'

Palazzolo, who at one point was based in SA, is now jailed in Italy.

In 2009, he was sentenced in absentia to nine years' imprisonment by an Italian court for having an association with the Mafia.

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

According to the particulars of claim in the Lincoln matter, at the time that the spotlight was on him within the police, the New National Party was running the Western Cape.

Lincoln had been an African National Congress appointee.

The particulars of claim said Lincoln had been "unlawfully investigated and arrested" and that the prosecution against him had been started by a Director (Brigadier) Knipe and Senior Superintendent (Colonel) Rossouw.

"[This happened] in 1998 after [Lincoln] started to investigate senior police officers and filed reports to then deputy president Thabo Mbeki.

"The then national commissioner of police, John George Fivaz, who disliked [Lincoln's] direct access to the president, instructed Director Knipe and Senior Superintendent Rossouw to investigate [Lincoln]."


Knipe and Rossouw, according to the particulars of claim, had acted "on the irate instructions" of Fivaz.

It said Knipe and Rossouw were employees of the minister of safety and security, who was therefore liable for the "malicious and unlawful instigation of the prosecution" against Lincoln.

At the time, Lincoln was acquitted on several charges, but was convicted on charges including one for "an amount claimed [by Lincoln] for stay and traveling in Angola" which it was alleged was paid for by Palazzolo.

He was also convicted of drunk driving and leaving an accident scene.

The particulars of claim said the trial against him had started in May 2000 in a regional court.

It lasted for more than two years and five months, and the State called 52 witnesses, including Fivaz and then minister of provincial and local government Sydney Mufamadi.

"The trial was widely publicised in the printed and television media, where [Lincoln] was branded as a criminal appointed by former President N Mandela."

Lincoln was convicted on some charges and sentenced to nine years in jail.

He appealed this, a process which took nearly eight years.

The appeal was heard in October 2009.

Loss of income

According to the particulars of claim, the judge who heard it ruled that "the entire trial consisted of intrigue, name-dropping and very little else... all the facts just scream out that there was no fraud in this case".

Lincoln was discharged from the police service in October 2003, but had the right to be reinstated after the acquittal.

In June 2010, he was reinstated at the rank of brigadier, which was a lower rank to the one he had held when he was discharged.

Lincoln is claiming damages on the grounds that, among other things, his dignity and political rights suffered.

He had also suffered a loss of income.

The particulars of claim said that, at the time, Lincoln's immovable property in Pretoria was repossessed and auctioned off by the bank because he could not afford to pay his bond after he was kicked out of the police service.

It said Lincoln needed legal assistance for years of court matters - including in the Labour Court, regional court and High Court.
He is currently serving in the police as the cluster commander of the Winelands area.

Read more on:    police  |  cape town  |  judiciary

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