Maharaj rejects Israeli, UK press claims that Mossad trained Mandela
NELSON Mandela’s struggle comrade and long-time friend Mac Maharaj has rejected claims that the former president received judo, sabotage and weapons training from Mossad agents in Ethiopia in 1962.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation has also responded that Mandela in fact received mili- tary training that year from Algerian freedom fighters in Morocco, and from the Ethiopian Riot Battalion at Kolfe outside Addis Ababa, before returning to South Africa that July.
They were responding to a report in Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, picked up by The Telegraph in the UK, which made the claims.
Last night Maharaj said: “It never happened that Mandela received training from Mossad or the Israelis. He was trained by Ethiopians at a military base outside Addis Ababa.”
According to The Telegraph, a top-secret letter from Mossad to the foreign ministry from 1962 discloses that the training took place that year, when Mandela fled South Africa in order to lobby leaders of other African states for financial and military support for Umkhonto we Sizwe.
Mandela approached the Israeli Embassy in Ethiopia with the greeting “Shalom”, using the alias of “David Mobsari”, reported Haaretz, citing the extracts of the letter published for the first time.
Maharaj said Haaretz was “supposed to be a reputable paper”, but accused them of not putting “evidence on the table to prove their story”.
Responding to a Weekend Argus query last night, Verne Harris, research and archive director at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, confirmed there was no evidence, including from Mandela’s 1962 diary and notebook, “that he interacted with any Israeli operative during his tour of African countries in that year”.
Harris confirmed that Man- dela received military training from Algerian freedom fighters in Morocco, and from the Ethiopian Riot Battalion at Kolfe, in 1962.
“In 2009 the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s senior researcher travelled to Ethiopia and interviewed the surviving men who assisted in Mandela’s training – no evidence emerged of an Israeli connection,” he said.
According to Haaretz, Mossad were unaware of the true identity of Mobsari until they saw a photo of Mandela months later. Over the course of his training, Mossad reported that Mandela was particularly interested in the methods of the Haganah, the pre-state military force.
The Telegraph said the letter was discovered by the Israeli- born scholar David Fachler in South Africa.