The pamphlet written by Laurie Flynn and Gordon Brown documents the history of the events, gives the evidence of Gordon Brown’s innocence and of the continued efforts to materially damage his career, and maintains the case for his defence. The case is made in several of the pages on this website (The Proof, The Dossier, Affidavits) and the history is briefly summarised in the eight sections that follow.
1. Dismissal for whistleblowing
The story of the persecution and intimidation of Gordon Brown by one of the world’s most powerful mining transnationals, Anglo American-De Beers, begins in 1982 with a judicial inquiry into corruption and poor governance in Namibia, headed by a South African Supreme Court Judge P.W. Thirion.
Namibia at that time had been denied its independence for six decades and was governed, if that is the word, on strict apartheid lines as a “province” of racist South Africa.
Namibia at that time had been denied its independence for six decades and was governed, if that is the word, on strict apartheid lines as a “province” of racist South Africa.
A principal reason for the continued illegal occupation of the country by the South African state was the range of powerful business and political insiders who were making fortunes from that illegal occupation and from their share in the improper “ownership” of its richest resource, the immensely rich Atlantic beach gem diamonds of the Sperrgebeit or Forbidden Zone.
Born and raised in Glasgow, and still a citizen of this country, Gordon Brown started work on Namibia’s Atlantic beaches as a twenty year-old in 1968. Because of his competence, democratic instincts and ease with people of any race, class or colour he was later promoted to be technical assistant to the general manager of Consolidated Diamond Mines of South West Africa, the Anglo-De Beers operating company.
He worked hard to introduce new, more productive and fairer employment conditions, prompted in no small way by a sense of anxiety about the injustices on the mine. At Oranjemund, the De Beers-owned mining town, black workers were recruited under the hated migrant labour system. This meant they could not live with their families. To add to their misery they were also badly paid, and housed in single-sex compounds unfit for humans to live in.
Brown found this wholly unacceptable for moral reasons and because he knew this was probably the richest mining property of its size anywhere in the world – with enormous profits going to shareholders and companies outside of Namibia.
During his tenure as technical assistant to the general manager he became even more worried about what was going on. In his line of duty all manner of confidential business documents came across his desk. Anxiety turned to alarm when he began to see disturbing evidence of mining policies which had been put in place to run down the mine and take as much profit as possible ahead of Namibian independence.
Brown felt it was his civic duty to tell the truth about what was going on when asked to do so by a government judicial commission of inquiry. This commission began looking into corruption and maladministration in the country in 1982. Brown gave testimony under oath at the hearings of the Thirion commission in 1985. His evidence was extensive and damning. He showed in detail how Anglo-De Beers was selectively and unfairly targeting the richest ore reserves on the world’s finest gem diamond deposit north of the Orange River in Namibia.
2. Denial of a South African rough diamond dealer’s licence by the De Beers closed shop.
Back in South Africa Gordon Brown still sought to continue working in the industry he loved. But in South Africa too, and the broader world of diamonds of which it is a part, De Beers’ writ runs large. So when he applied for a diamond dealer’s licence Gordon Brown found his path blocked.
Nevertheless he continued to sell polished diamonds and practise as a diamond consultant trying to introduce good mining and marketing practices in sub-Saharan Africa’s diamond producing states.
In line with the principles of transparency and good governance now espoused by the New Economic Policy for African Development (NEPAD) and the British Labour government’s Commission on Africa, he was working to help the sub-continent develop beyond its age-old colonial status as a producer purely and simply of raw materials. Again and again he kept pushing for meaningful diamond cutting and diamond jewellery manufacturing industries in the producer states, in Botswana and Namibia and serious expansion in South Africa.
Sadly, all this was – and still is – anathema to De Beers, one of the world’s longest lasting cartels, which has always vigorously opposed local African diamond cutting on any serious scale even though this would boost employment and help develop the countries concerned.
All this repeated victimisation was hurtful and deeply unpleasant for Gordon Brown and his family. But there was worse to come.
3. The Cape Town frame-up
In 1991 the campaign to discredit Gordon Brown took a more sinister turn, which continues to this day.
He was framed on a serious criminal charge: Illicit Diamond Buying. This is not and never has been a “crime” in Europe or America, nor even in Canada or Australia where there are substantial diamond mining operations.
But in Southern Africa, where Anglo-De Beers and the apartheid state had been working hand in glove in diamonds for more than four decades, this “crime” of buying or being in possession of unpolished diamonds without a diamond dealer’s licence or permit is punishable by heavy fines and long prison sentences.
The frame-up began with a fairly typical South African Police Diamond and Gold Branch ploy – deliberate entrapment.
In the summer of 1991, Gordon Brown was contacted by two undercover officers from the apartheid-era Diamond and Gold Branch of the South African Police.
Passing themselves off at a brief introductory meeting as diamond concession-holders with a small sea concession off the west coast of South Africa, they said they were looking for a buyer who would give them better prices for their gemstones.
Then, at a second meeting, the final phase of a shocking, premeditated conspiracy to pervert the course of justice was set in motion. The two officers brought diamonds with them, showed them to Brown and then arrested him for Illicit Diamond Buying. Next they pretended that Gordon Brown had bought the diamonds from them when he had done nothing of the sort.
In court they further perjured themselves, dishonestly claiming not only that Gordon Brown had bought the diamonds but that he had done so after they told him they had been stolen from his former employer, CDM-De Beers.
If the magistrate had swallowed these lies Brown would have been found guilty and sent to prison for a lengthy stretch. However Magistrate van Zyl found the police evidence dishonest and wholly lacking in credibility. By contrast Brown was found to have given honest evidence and the case was dismissed.
The failed outcome of the 1991 frame-up was however a close run thing. Justice prevailed mainly because Brown had a proper legal team and time to prepare his defence. Furthermore the Magistrate was an unusually independent person with no links to De Beers. This was just as well because, behind the scenes, the links between the multinational diamond cartel and the diamond police were demonstrably very close.
One of the two dishonest police witnesses, Burlin Vos, came to court to give his evidence not in his own transport but in a yellow company car from Oranjemund, the De Beers company town. The car belonged to the company’s security department. When questioned what he was doing coming to court in a De Beers CDM security department vehicle Mr. Vos responded, “We work with these people.”
Later, in a remarkable development, Burlin Vos, by now in jail for his own continuing criminality, agreed to let Gordon Brown visit him in Goodwood prison. At the meeting Vos outlined who and what was behind the conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and jail Gordon Brown.
The idea was, he said, to discredit Brown and thereby draw the sting from his devastating 1985 testimony to the Namibian judicial commission of inquiry into corruption and poor governance in the country’s leading industry.
4. The Namibian Conspiracy
While the 1991 Cape Town frame-up failed and Gordon Brown was acquitted, this was by no means the end of the campaign to discredit him.
In Namibia in 1993 he was persecuted all over again. He was successfully building a new business there. But he was not to know that another entrapment was being planned.
It began with undercover police officers and police informers offering licensed Cape Town diamond dealer Dudley Bernicchi Angolan diamonds.
Bernicchi was told unequivocally that these stones had entered Namibia legally with all the requisite paperwork. Bernicchi then phoned Gordon Brown, who often worked with him and who he knew was about to leave for Windhoek on unrelated business. Bernicchi asked Brown to represent his interests, to inspect the Angolan stones and see if they were worth buying.
After his arrival in Windhoek, and following Bernicchi’s instructions, Brown made contact with Bernicchi’s local business associate, Cohen van Zyl, and arranged to view the Angolan diamonds. He was taken to a private house in Windhoek West. Little did he know that the house where he was taken to inspect the diamonds belonged to a police informer, Petrus Shamarten.
The house, the informers and the Angolan diamonds were, in fact, part of an elaborate entrapment set up yet again by De Beers security and their friends in the Namibian Police Diamond and Gold Branch.
They had no shortage of such friends in the Branch; and they had extensive contact with them on a day-to-day basis for a special reason. The Branch was housed in the De Beers CDM building.
After professionally examining the stones Brown found that the diamonds were worth purchasing and gave Bernicchi an estimation of a fair price. On receiving Brown’s report Dudley Bernicchi decided to buy the Angolan parcel and proceeded to send the necessary funds to Windhoek, openly by bank transfer.
However when Gordon Brown returned to the house to continue the negotiations he was never shown any paperwork vouchsafing that the importation from Angola was legal. Instead he was arrested. And, even though Bernicchi, not Brown, was the purchaser, Brown not Bernicchi was charged with Illicit Diamond Buying, even though he provided incontrovertible evidence that he, not Brown, was the buyer.
The police now began to ramp up their evidence against Brown still further. In witness statements concocted with the help and advice of the top Diamond Police official, Hennie Brink, a man with something of a record for distorting “evidence” in court or encouraging others to do so, they flatly denied that they ever claimed that these were legal Angolan stones imported with proper paperwork.
When Brown sought the whereabouts of the mandatory police tape recordings and video footage of the entrapment operation – which would prove beyond doubt what had really gone on – the Gold and Diamond Branch could not find them and claimed, limply, that they just did not know if any taping had been done.
Charged with Illicit Diamond Buying, Brown was given bail and then was kept on tenterhooks for almost a year awaiting trial. Sickened by this continuing harassment which, quite apart from anything else, was destroying his business activities in Namibia, Brown set out to find out as much as he could about what was really going on in the Diamond and Gold Branch.
Very soon Brown had shocking evidence that the self-same people who were falsely accusing him of IDB were themselves regularly involved in criminal diamond buying without permits or licences. He obtained a series of damning affidavits from a range of Windhoek business people which showed that De Beers regularly bought up uncut Angolan diamonds in defiance of the law.
These affidavits, including one from a former Diamond and Gold Branch detective called George Pearson, showed that De Beers’ Namibian chief of security Roger Burchell was bank-rolling these operations and the company was itself regularly purchasing lots of diamonds without a Namibian licence.
Burchell, we have established, always wore two hats and was a living symbol of just how completely De Beers had captured sections of the Namibian state.
Besides his job with De Beers as Namibian chief of security, he was also a highly placed reservist and senior police officer in the Diamond and Gold Branch of the Namibian police with the rank of inspector. His police identity number was 200642.
For many years Burchell had also worked especially closely with the head of the Diamond and Gold Branch, Hennie Brink. And the evidence now available shows these were the two men who planned the operation in Windhoek to frame Gordon Brown and decided precisely how it would go down. Burchell, according to Petrus Shamarten, was secretly hidden in Shamarten’s house in Windhoek during the entrapment operation.
In 1993 and again in 1994 Gordon Brown reported this shocking state of affairs to the chief of police, General Andima, to the Namibian Prime Minister, Hage Geingob, to the Minister of Justice and to State President Sam Nujoma.
In spite of promises to have these well-founded and extremely serious charges investigated, absolutely nothing was done. Instead the Namibian police neglected their duty, and proceeded to prosecute a man they knew to be innocent while conniving with De Beers to commit the very offence that was the subject of their false accusation against him.
Documents now in our possession clearly indicate the illegal nature of this operation against an innocent man and point to malicious intent on the part of De Beers security and the Diamond and Gold Branch of the Namibian state.
5. The Justice Game – perjury and injustice in the Namibian Court
If the arrest and charging of Gordon Brown was a travesty of justice, so was his trial. Quite apart from the fact that the state in the form of the Namibian Diamond and Gold Branch came to court with dirty hands, Gordon Brown was demonstrably denied the rights to a fair trial.
He was not able to choose his own legal counsel. His original attorney withdrew at the last moment – without proper explanation.
This left the accused severely disadvantaged by comparison with the state which not only had far more resources, but a whole year to prepare for trial. This in itself is a denial of a basic human right known as “equality of arms” in the realm of justice.
The new lawyer came on board at the very last minute and Gordon was denied adequate time and facilities to brief him and prepare a proper defence to very serious charges.
This was another infringement of his rights.
Gordon Brown was also denied adequate access to the most basic information, and this of course is absolutely essential to a fair trial.
The key witness statements were withheld from him.
He was flatly refused access to the contents of the police docket file which should have guided him through the entire evidentiary process of arrest, decision to prosecute and preparation for trial.
To prevent frame-ups and abuse of process, tapes and videotapes of arrests during police entrapment operations are supposedly standard practice and some police witnesses insisted that they were indeed made at the house at Windhoek West.
But these recordings were not disclosed; and at trial itself the posture was that no-one really knew whether any such recordings had been made.
The police informer (in whose house the trap was conducted) insisted that recordings had indeed been made. But when he came to court to give his evidence he was hurriedly chased away by a senior police officer who was perhaps more than a little worried about where this evidence might lead.
During the trial Gordon Brown’s advocate was not only under-prepared, he was repeatedly challenged by the judge and put off his stride. Indeed, according to Gordon Brown, the judge persistently failed to treat the defence and the prosecution even-handedly. In all, this amounted to a systematic denial of Brown’s basic human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Namibian Constitution and other relevant legal instruments.
This failure to provide “equality of arms”, fair representation, and access to evidence and witness statements is all the more serious because, even after independence, the Namibian justice system still does not provide for a jury trial.
Furthermore, now that the key Diamond Police/DeBeers witness has confessed to perjury in this case and described the concoction of statements by senior officers, we can now demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that the Namibian state came to court with dirty hands. It also denied Gordon Brown his human rights to fair representation, proper access to evidence and the opportunity to defend himself.
6. A new conspiracy to pervert the course of justice – the charge of extortion
As he made to leave the court to begin his jail sentence, Gordon Brown was arrested yet again. This time it was on another trumped-up charge – supposedly of attempting to extort money from De Beers-CDM his former employer and Abel Gower and Trevor Stacey also of De Beers-CDM.
In the run up to his trial Gordon Brown had been invited to meet the two men in their offices to explain just how damaging to his reputation and to his business interests in Namibia the concerted Diamond Police / De Beers attacks on him had been.
Prior to his arrest Brown had been successfully building up a new business in Namibia which was being undermined by the accusations of illicit diamond buying. Brown had begun formulating a legal claim for damages and he now outlined this to the two De Beers officials face to face in their offices. He explained to these men that since he had been cut out of a major offshore oil industry contract merely because he had been charged with Illicit Diamond Buying, he would be seeking proper compensation for all the damage done.
Now as he left court to begin his jail sentence for IDB a Namibian police officer tapped him on the shoulder and informed him that he was now charging him with another very serious charge – attempted extortion.
To make this new arrest, on cue and just minutes after Brown received a five year jail sentence, Anglo-De Beers security officials roped in a Namibian police officer, Willem Ignatius Terblanche.
The involvement of this highly problematic officer was extraordinary, and highly revealing of De Beers’ links with the apartheid state.
For, within weeks, Chief Inspector Terblanche, the very officer doing De Beers’ dirty work, would be publicly exposed by Judge Levy, a particularly courageous Namibian judge, as an accomplice or an accessory to the murder of prominent Windhoek lawyer and South West African Peoples Organisation official Anton Lubowski.
The judge found that he had known the murder was about to take place and done nothing whatsoever to prevent it. This, Judge Levy found, made him an accomplice to the crime and/or an accessory to murder before and after the crime.
With Gordon Brown reeling from the receipt minutes earlier of a five-year jail sentence, Terblanche now added another shameful act to his complicity and negligence in the assassination of Anton Lubowski.
Thirteen years later this phoney extortion charge still hangs over Gordon Brown. However since the initial arrest, the state has failed to respond to a formal request from Gordon Brown’s advocate for full and further particulars of the charge, seemingly preferring to hold it over Brown as yet another threat.
This again is a serious impropriety and part of a persistent pattern of victimisation.
7. Fleeing injustice
Framed by the diamond police and De Beers’ security officials, Gordon Brown spent seven grim weeks in Windhoek Central Prison before bail pending appeal was granted.
One entrance to the jail was, ironically, located in a street named after Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, the chairman of De Beers for over thirty years and grandfather of the present chairman. Conditions in the jail were very poor and involved still further infringements of Brown’s human rights.
Built to house 25 prisoners, the cell block Brown was put in was massively overcrowded, with 50 inmates, up to fifteen of them sleeping on the floor with only a thin blanket for warmth in winter. There was one shower for the lot of them, a poor and monotonous diet, mainly of porridge, and little or no exercise, education or entertainment.
Freed from jail pending appeal in May 1994, Gordon Brown attended the inquest into murdered lawyer and SWAPO activist Anton Lubowski. He was in for a further shock. Here in June that year Brown learned for the first time that the man who had arrested him on the trumped up extortion charge was an unpunished accessory to murder.
Brown had worked with Anton Lubowski and had gone to Zambia with him to meet Sam Nujoma and discuss changes in the diamond mining industry after independence. If someone as prominent as Anton Lubowski could be murdered, what chance did he himself have, he wondered. With good reason Brown now began seriously to fear for his life.
Next he learned that the prosecuting attorney Danie Small, who had brought the IDB charge against him in court, had a serious conflict of interest. His wife, shortly before the trial, had been charged with 60 counts of fraud and Illicit Diamond Buying.Brown was astounded. Next he learned that Small’s boss, the then Namibian state prosecutor-general, Hans Heyman was also compromised.
Heyman had enthusiastically authorised both the IDB prosecution and the issuing of the phoney extortion charges against Gordon Brown. In Judge Levy’s summing up of the quagmire of irregularity and political corruption that surrounded the decision to drop the charges against the chief suspect for the murder of Anton Lubowski, Heyman too was savagely criticised for misconduct.
Judge Levy found that Heyman had more than enough prima facie evidence to prosecute Mr Lubowski’s assassin who had been arrested soon after the murder. But instead he let him go.
Hennie Brink, the Diamond and Gold Branch officer orchestrating the IDB frame up was, Brown learned, another man with a highly problematic record. According to press reports, in August 1993 he had been accused in court of torturing and beating IDB suspects.
All in all it was becoming abundantly clear to Gordon Brown that he was not going to get justice in his appeal against the IDB conviction. The Namibian justice system clearly lacked impartiality, and was only too easily manipulated by special interests.
Equally worrying, Hans Heyman, the state prosecutor-general criticised for his pliability and incompetence in the Lubowski murder, was pressing full steam ahead with a new frame up against him through the phoney extortion charge laid against him by CDM-De Beers and Chief Inspector Terblanche.
Brown, denied his pre-trial rights, access to information and a fair trial on one occasion already, was facing yet another round of injustice.
He concluded that he would never get justice from the apartheid-style judicial machinery in Namibia.
Indeed if he was not careful he could lose his life.
8. The fight for justice
With the Namibian justice system rigged against him, and increasingly fearful for his life as a result of attending the Anton Lubowski inquest, Brown was advised to leave the country for his own safety.
An official from the British High Commission warned him that he was in jeopardy. His lawyer said the same. Reluctantly he followed this advice, fled the country and returned to the family home in Cape Town.
Since then Gordon Brown has been trying to clear his name. He contacted the South African police hoping that in the new South Africa they would properly investigate the involvement of South African Diamond and Gold Branch officers and senior De Beers’ officials in perverting the course of justice. He’s still waiting.
He contacted prominent lawyers, academics and political figures, including Nelson Mandela and the Safety and Security Minister Sidney Mufamadi. He wrote to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Further investigations in Namibia have now produced decisive new evidence of his innocence. After contacting Amnesty International and other human rights organisations, Gordon Brown resolved to find the legal remedy to clear his name, and obtain justice. Brown has now taken his case to the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and has lodged criminal charges against the individuals and corporate bodies involved.
He is determined to find just and proper ways to hold to account the individuals, corporate bodies and state parties involved in victimising him and perverting the course of justice.
A good name is an honest person’s most precious possession and before De Beers and the Diamond Police framed him Gordon Brown had no previous convictions of any kind anywhere.