CIA Gave Tip-Off That Led to Nelson Mandela's Arrest, Former Agent Says

Nelson and Winnie Mandela outside prison
Nelson Mandela and wife Winnie raise fists upon his release from Victor Verster prison in Paarl, South Africa, February 11, 1990. A former CIA agent admitted on his death bed that he had informed authorities of Mandela's whereabouts on day of arrest. Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

A CIA agent gave the tip-off to South African authorities that led to the arrest of Nelson Mandela during the apartheid era, according to a filmmaker's interview with the agent on his deathbed.

British film director John Irvin's interview with former CIA agent Donald Rickard about Mandela's arrest in 1962 is to be used as part of Irvin's new film, Mandela's Gun, which is set to be screened at Cannes Film Festival this week.

"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," Rickard said, accordingly to The Sunday Times.

"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."

Mandela's arrest led to his infamous 27-year stint in incarceration on Robben Island before authorities released him in 1990. Police stopped Mandela at a roadblock while he posed as a chauffeur; Rickard said that he was the informer that gave authorities information of Mandela's plans on the day of the arrest.

"I found out when he was coming down and how he was coming," Rickard said. "That's where I was involved and that's where Mandela was caught."

A friend and co-defendant of Mandela's, Denis Goldberg, told The Sunday Times that the former South African president, the country's first-ever black leader, "always knew" about the CIA's role in his arrest but upon his release believed that it no longer mattered.

The South African government criticized the U.S. following the revelation and said that Washington is still working against the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party. "We have recently observed that there are efforts to undermine the democratically elected ANC government," Zizi Kodwa told Fox News. "They never stopped operating here."

Mandela's Gun is about Mandela's brief period as a rebel before his incarceration. Rickard died in 2015 and worked as a diplomat in South Africa, with no formal link to the CIA, according to the BBC. Mandela died at the age of 95 in 2013.

CIA Gave Tip-Off That Led to Nelson Mandela's Arrest, Former Agent Says | World