Yet again, it looks like the CIA is finding itself on the wrong side of history.
British director 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. In the film, former US vice-consul in Durban and CIA operative Donald Rickard revealed his involvement in Mandela’s 1962 arrest, which was seen as necessary, because Mandela was perceived to be under Soviet control.
“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.” Rickard said.
Rickard, reportedly employed by the CIA until 1978, died in March, two weeks after talking to Irvin.
Zizi Kodwa, national spokesman of Mandela’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, called the revelation “a serious indictment.” He claimed that though the incident happened decades ago, the CIA is still interfering in South African politics.
“We always knew there was always collaboration between some western countries and the apartheid regime,” he said.
“We have recently observed that there are efforts to undermine the democratically elected ANC government,” he alleged. “They never stopped operating here…It is still happening now – the CIA is still collaborating with those who want regime change.”
Rickard claims he found out that Mandela would be traveling from Durban to Johannesburg and told police so they could set up a roadblock. When Mandela’s car was stopped, agents immediately recognized the most wanted man in the country and took him into custody.
“I found out when he was coming down and how he was coming … that’s where I was involved and that’s where Mandela was caught,” Rickard said.
His recent statements contradict his previous denials as recently as 2012 in a Wall Street Journal story about Mandela’s mysterious detention.