Cape Town – Allegations about the relationship between mafioso Vito Palazzolo and a high-ranking policeman tasked with investigating him surfaced in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.
Ex-policeman Leonard Knipe testified about this in the civil trial focusing on Major-General Andre Lincoln.
In 1996, former president Nelson Mandela had appointed Lincoln to head up a special presidential investigative task unit, which 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 Palazzolo and his links to government officials, police and businessman.
Lincoln’s advocate Johann Nortje previously told the court that Lincoln had also been appointed to head a covert intelligence operation dubbed “Project Intrigue”.
But on Tuesday Knipe testified that he believed Intrigue “was being done to protect Vito Palazzolo”.
“I found no endeavour was being made to [extradite] this international fugitive.”
Knipe said he believed Lincoln was behind this.
He said he also believed there was previously a “very good case” involving Lincoln and Palazzolo.
“It pertained to the allegation that Palazzolo had modernised the kitchen being used by [Lincoln],” said Knipe.
He believed Palazzolo had paid for the kitchen revamp.
Lincoln was not prosecuted for this.
He was previously arrested when criminal allegations against him and others in the presidential investigative unit then surfaced.
Lincoln is now claiming R15m in damages from the minister of safety and security (now the minister of police) for alleged malicious prosecution.
The case continues on Wednesday.