A former US vice-consul in Durban and CIA operative, Donald Rickard, revealed to British director John Irvin his involvement in the arrest and imprisonment of Nelson Mandela in 1962 which led to his spending up to 28 years in jail. Mr Rickard believed that the arrest of Nelson Mandela was expedient at the time as the Americans believed he was a communist who needed to be ‘stopped’.
Mr Rickard was reported as saying that he had helped and tipped off apartheid authorities in South Africa as to the whereabouts of Mandela, leading to his eventual arrest. He said:
“He could have incited a war in South Africa, the United States would have to get involved, grudgingly, and things could have gone to hell. We were teetering on the brink here and it had to be stopped, which meant Mandela had to be stopped. And I put a stop to it.”
John Irvin’s new film ‘Mandela’s Gun’, about the months before the anti-apartheid leader’s arrest, is due to be screened at the Cannes film festival this week. Mandela was eventually freed from prison in 1990 and went on to become South Africa’s president between 1994 and 1999 before dying in 2013 at age 95. Rickard, who was reportedly employed by the CIA until 1978, two weeks after making the revelation to Irvin in the US.
The national spokesman of Mandela’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, Zizi Kodwa, called the revelation ‘a serious indictment’. “We always knew there was always a collaboration between some Western countries and the apartheid regime,” he told AFP. He claimed that though the incident happened decades ago, the CIA was still interfering in South African politics. “We have recently observed that there are efforts to undermine the democratically elected ANC government,” he further alleged. “They never stopped operating here. It is still happening now — the CIA is still collaborating with those who want regime change.”
The revelation is beyond doubts as the United States has a known history of interfering in the affairs of other nations. The CIA declined to make any comments on the matter.