André Lincoln takes over of elite outfit after proving he was framed by certain officers. File Picture: Brenton Geach/African News Agency (Archives)
Cape Town - Top cop Major-General André Lincoln, who is suing the police minister for R15million in damages, is now the boss of the Cape’s Anti-Gang Unit, which was launched on Friday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, Police Minister Bheki Cele and Premier Helen Zille launched the 100-member unit in Hanover Park.

The unit has been in operation since October, deployed in the Nyanga, Bonteheuwel and Bishop Lavis clusters.

Lincoln commands officers and specialist detectives who came from the Visible Policing Unit, tactical response teams, Crime Intelligence, and Operation Combat. The latter unit had dealt with gang crimes.

The unit’s numbers are to increase and work in areas across the province.

At the launch, Ramaphosa warned the gangs that the streets no longer belonged to them.

“We declare to the gangsters that we are not afraid of you. In fact, we are coming after you. We are going to pursue you, we are going to chase you down, we are going to find you in every little corner where you are hiding and we are going to take our lives back.”

Also at the podium, Zille said the provincial government had made consistent calls for the full reinstatement of specialised gang, gun and drug units since their abolition in 2012.

“The drug floodgates opened in the wake of the disbandment of these units, with 36% of all drug-related crime and 83% of all gang-related murders taking place in the Western Cape, according to the latest crime statistics.”

As Lincoln accepted 50 high-performance BMWs for the unit, he told Ramaphosa: “Mr President, we will work hard to bring peace and stability to these communities. With this, we will go after these gangsters.”

Lincoln has had a long battle in court to clear his name from malicious investigation and prosecution.

Last October, he won his appeal in the Western Cape High Court against the minister of police for malicious investigations launched against him, while he was head of then-president Nelson Mandela’s Presidential Investigation Task Unit in 1997. He is now suing the minister.

In 2003, Lincoln was convicted of 17 out of 47 charges and sentenced to nine years behind bars. He was acquitted in 2009 after an appeal in the Western Cape High Court, which concluded that no fraud had been committed in the case, which had instead been about backstabbing and political rivalry.

Lincoln’s unit had investigated top Western Cape police officers and Italian mafioso Vito Roberto Palazzolo, allegedly the sixth-highest ranked member of the Mafia, who was jailed in Italy in 2014.

Palazzolo had been brought to South Africa by the National Party in 1986, according to Lincoln’s testimony.

Lincoln had also said he was framed after the investigation into a plot to assassinate Nelson Mandela at his inauguration in 1994 had been “totally covered up”.

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Cape Argus