The investigation into a plot to assassinate former president Nelson Mandela was “totally covered up”, Major-General Andre Lincoln testified in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.
He told the court that police officers at all levels blocked the investigation.
A handcrafted rifle was found under the desk of a senior police officer in Pretoria, and was allegedly going to be used to kill Mandela during his inauguration.
But, Lincoln said they had to turn to the high court in Pretoria to obtain a search and seizure warrant for the national police office.
Lincoln headed the Presidential Investigation Task Unit, set up by Mandela in 1996. His civil case against the police details the backstabbing and political rivalry that formed the backdrop of covert operations in South Africa’s early years of democracy.
Lincoln is claiming R15 million in damages for the “malicious” investigations initiated against him and the ultimate prosecution against him when he was head of the Presidential Investigation Task Unit (PITU). His lawyer Johan Nortje told the court earlier on Monday that “at the end of the day” Lincoln faced 47 charges of fraud.
In 2003, he was convicted on 17 of the charges, and sentenced to nine years behind bars.
Lincoln was granted leave to appeal, but it took a further six years for the case to be heard in the Western Cape High Court before Judge Jeannette Traverso.
Norje told the court: “In October 2009 we argued before Judge Jeannette Traverso who found this case had been about backstabbing and rivalry and the fact of this matter was there had been no fraud”.
Lincoln therefore had to be reinstated, but faced opposition from the national police office. Eventually, he was reinstated in a lower position, and efforts to claim his back-pay met with further resistance.
“Hence the institution of malicious prosecution in February 2012”, Norje told the court.
Lincoln also testified on Monday about a report he was given by an inspector that contained allegations about mafia kingpin Vito Palazzolo. He said he recognised the seriousness of the matter and dealt with it in a “classified manner”.
“The report alleged that Palazollo had the head of organised crime (Neels Venter) on his payroll, as well as foreign affairs minister at the time, Pallo Jordan”.
He took the report to President Mandela who subsequently set up the Presidential Investigation Task Unit in June 1996 to investigate the allegations.
Lincoln was appointed head of the unit and was to oversee Operation Intrigue.
But, Lincoln has testified that the investigations were hampered at every turn by attempts to sabotage PITU and police interference.
The trial continues.[Source: ENCA]