BREAKING: Ex-Mandela cop's claim against police minister dismissed

Major-General Andre Lincoln outside the Western Cape High Court. (Caryn Dolley/News24)
Major-General Andre Lincoln outside the Western Cape High Court. (Caryn Dolley/News24)

Cape Town - Major General Andre Lincoln, a policeman that former president Nelson Mandela chose to head an elite presidential investigative unit, on Friday lost a civil case against the the police minister in the Western Cape High Court.

He intended appealing the ruling.

Lincoln had wanted R15m in damages from the then minister of safety and security (now police minister).

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

He faced 47 criminal charges and was convicted of 17 in 2003. He appealed and was acquitted of all the charges.

Lincoln previously sought damages against the Justice and Constitutional Development Minister but withdrew the claim in September last year.

His argument in the civil case had been that there was no lawful purpose to instituting the charges but was to deliberately thwart his investigations within his unit.

Judge Judith Cloete was not persuaded that he had proved the relevant police officials had acted with malice, even on the basis of dolus eventualis, and without reasonable and probable cause.

Speaking outside court after the judgment, Lincoln said: "It would be interesting to see what she has written in her judgment. We are definitely going to appeal."

On the matter of prosecution, or the instigation thereof, Cloete’s judgment referred to the 2009 Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling in the case of the National Director of Public Prosecutions versus President Jacob Zuma.

This SCA ruling stated that a prosecution was not wrong merely because it was brought for an improper purpose. It would only be so if "in addition, reasonable and probable grounds for prosecuting are absent".

In the nineties, Lincoln was appointed commander of the Presidential Investigation Task Unit.

The unit had been tasked with investigating Cape Town-based Italian mafioso Vito Palazzolo and his links to government officials, police, and businessmen.

Lincoln had been of the view that fellow senior police officers realised he had gathered intelligence on their plans, including one to murder Mandela, so they framed him. 

The charges of fraud and theft against him had pertained to alleged irregularities by him within the unit.

These allegations included renting two vehicles without authority, claims that he made for subsistence and travel allowances, renting two safe houses without the necessary authorisation, paying three informers, and theft of furniture from a unit safe house.

Describing Lincoln as highly intelligent and astute, Cloete said he would have left no stone unturned in his quest to prove a deliberate conspiracy against him.

"From a purely subjective point of view he seemed utterly convinced of this."

The witnesses in the civil case included Leonard Knipe, a former senior policeman with the murder and robbery unit, and Advocate Andre Bouwer, the prosecutor in the regional court trial, and the member of the Attorney-General’s office who directed the Knipe investigation.

Cloete described them as excellent witnesses.

"The accounts they gave of the lengths to which they went to ensure that the investigation proceeded fairly and thoroughly were not shaken in cross-examination," she said in her judgment.

She was persuaded that the relevant officials took reasonable care to inform themselves of the true state of affairs.

They also gave a fair and honest statement of relevant facts to the prosecutor and left the final decision in the hands of the prosecuting authority, she found.

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