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High Court: Police Hindered the Investigation Into the 1994 Assassination Attempt of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

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 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.

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.”

Lincoln said in order to retrieve the handcrafted 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 that 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.

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