Apartheid security police lured youth 'to their slaughter' - ex-Mandela cop

Cape Town - Major-General Andre Lincoln on Wednesday insisted - in a series of startling accusations - that police officers removed evidence from the scenes of government-ordered crimes committed in the 1980s.

He submitted this as part of his testimony while under cross-examination in the Western Cape High Court.

Most of Lincoln's claims were made against Leonard Knipe, a former senior policeman with the murder and robbery unit.

Lincoln believes Knipe was part of a group of police officers that "cleaned" crime scenes, including after the killing of seven anti-apartheid activists in Gugulethu in 1986, and the bombing of Community House in Salt River in 1987.

On Wednesday, it was put to Lincoln that Knipe was innocent and that he had been at the Gugulethu scene because he had heard about it on the radio and responded, as was his duty.

"Those events were well doctored by the apartheid government. [Knipe's task] was to remove any evidence that would point to the police. For 20 years that remained a secret," Lincoln said.

The killing of the so-called Gugulethu Seven was "a huge incident".

"It involved innocent people. It involved security police using youth and leading them to their slaughter," he said.

Not guilty

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission however found Knipe not guilty of any wrongdoing in both the bombing and killing of the seven.

Lincoln said this was because he had not been directly involving in the killings or bombings and, therefore, would not have applied for amnesty.

Knipe, who was seated in the courtroom's public gallery, shook his head as Lincoln testified.

In 1996, then-president Nelson Mandela tasked Lincoln with heading up a presidential investigative unit to probe Cape Town-based Italian mafioso Vito Palazzolo and his links to government officials, police, and businessmen.

Lincoln was arrested when criminal allegations against him and others in the unit surfaced. He was accused of a number of charges, but was acquitted.

Lincoln is now claiming R15m in damages from the minister of safety and security (now the minister of police) for alleged malicious prosecution.

Lincoln believes Knipe, who was tasked with probing the presidential investigative unit, had been used to tarnish his image because his work included probing high-ranking officers.

Guise

Earlier on Wednesday, Lincoln said he had purported to be responsible for then-deputy president Thabo Mbeki's safety, as a guise to infiltrate various groupings.

Lincoln said this was part of his "legend" - the character he represented to some of those he was investigating.

"My legend remained constant. I was attached to the deputy president as a senior police officer responsible for his safety."

The case is set to resume on Thursday.