What has been predominantly speculation has taken a more sinister and ‘concrete’ twist with a former agent of the CIA disclosing in an interview that the agency played a ‘key role’ in Nelson Mandela’s arrest.
The revelations were made in Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper (1). They are based on an interview with Donald Rickard, a former CIA agent, which took place shortly before Rickard’s death.
As Top Secret Writers reported, in 1963 Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader, along with other African National Congress leaders, were arrested and tried for using violence to try and overthrow a government (2).
In 1964 Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment. Mandela spent the next 27 years in prison.
According to the Times, the former CIA operative, Donald Rickard, was unrepentant in his confession of the CIA’s involvement with Mandela’s capture. Rickard claims that he informed authorities of an apartheid-led territory in South Africa of Mandela’s location, which led to Mandela’s arrest in 1962.
Rickard had made the claims when talking to John Irvin, director of a new documentary about Mandela’s time spent as an armed dissident. While not officially associated with the Central Intelligent Agency, according to the Sunday Times report, Rickard was an agent for the CIA during his time spent in South Africa as a diplomat.
The American claims that Nelson Mandela had been acting as a chauffeur when he was arrested in the town of Durban. Rickard says that he had found out when and how Mandela would be arriving in Durban and that is how he was caught.
Rickard has also mentioned to Irvin how Mandela, due to being influenced by the Soviet Union, had been a target of the United States, which had feared a bigger conflict between the US and Moscow should South Africa embark on a civil war.
“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,” said Rickard.
The Sunday Times described the revelation as a “bombshell disclosure”. The CIA has yet to have commented on the allegations.
Is There Substance to the Claims?
As the Washington Post reports, for decades there has been speculation over the CIA’s involvement with Mandela’s arrest (3).
One story that ignited speculation about the US’s intelligence agency’s influence over the arrest of Mandela occurred in 1990. That year the Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted an alleged US intelligence officer, which remained unnamed, saying that an informant within the circle of South Africa’s revolutionary leaders had been paid to pass information on to the CIA which then informed the authorities in South Africa.
There had also been a disagreement made in South African media about whether a piece of information, which led to Mandela’s arrest, had been made by a junior US diplomat or by the CIA. Donald Rickard had been named as the diplomat that may have been responsible for the tip off. However, in 2012 Rickard denied such claims in an interview with the Wall Street Times, stating:
“It’s untrue. There’s no substance to it.”
On his release from prison in 1990, Nelson Mandela became an iconic global figure for the role he played on the anti-apartheid movement. Mandela went on to lead South Africa’s transition from a white minority rule, serving as the country’s President from 1994 to 1999, South Africa’s first demographically elected president. In 2013, Nelson Mandela died, aged 95.
What are your thoughts on the “bombshell disclosure” that the CIA may have played an inherent role in the arrest of the man who helped put an end to South Africa’s centuries of racist tyranny, colonial domination, exploitation and misery?
References & Image Credits:
(1) Sunday Times
(2) TSW: Nelson Mandela the Enduring Legacy and His Fight for Life
(3) Washington Post
(4) Photos of Mandela