Guest Column

The unimaginably underhanded dealings in the police

2017-05-25 13:01
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Just imagine there was a group of crime fighters poised to arrest the country’s most powerful citizen. Or imagine they would not necessarily act on this, but were merely capable of it.
 
Picture them dotted around the country, based in different provinces, but working together (or on) this common matter; investigating, as their jobs require, claims and allegations of corruption and unravelling other criminality; gathering possible evidence and sniffing out more involved individuals.
 
Imagine the fear this could instil in that powerful citizen, especially if it is those close to this person who are the ones being sniffed out. It would be even worse if these crime tacklers were aligned to this person’s political party, but did not support this person and this person’s values.
 
How would this one person go about quelling what could, through a veil of paranoia, be seen as a potentially uncontrollable counter-movement? Diluting the power of these crime fighters would be an obvious move.
 
So imagine they were then “weakened”; that their jobs were changed in a way rendering them unable, or less able, to continue with investigations.
 
Imagine that these probes were then handed over to others specifically appointed so that, among other things, the investigations would peter out; what division this would sow within the service they worked in.
 
Just imagine the internal clashes of opinions and morals. This could spill over from within their ranks and into the realms of courtrooms. The public would be given a glimpse of this disarray. Residents would see that the very mechanisms meant to protect them are in fact in a shambles.
 
Just imagine.
 
Now look at the reality in just one province in South Africa: the Western Cape.
 
Senior police officer Major-General Jeremy Vearey, along with another senior policeman Major-General Peter Jacobs, are taking on, among others acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane, in the Labour Court in Cape Town. The two have been involved in highly critical investigations with national links.
 
In 2016, Vearey, who was deputy provincial commissioner for detective services, was suddenly shifted to a position he previously filled, commander of the Cape Town cluster of police stations, while Jacobs, who headed the province's crime intelligence unit, was appointed Wynberg cluster commander.
 
Vearey and Jacobs, who believe ulterior motives are behind their reappointments, are therefore fighting what they believe were demotions.
 
And then this plot possibly thickens.
 
Before the “demotions,” former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor approached Vearey with sensitive information. Mentor is widely known for being extremely critical and outspoken about President Jacob Zuma. Are these dots connected?
 
Maybe. Maybe not.
 
Now let’s go back to imagining.
 
Just imagine the scenario detailed higher above was actually playing out through the police reshuffle and court action in the Western Cape. Imagine similar shifts and actions were being experienced in other provinces with this manifesting in court cases and counter court cases. It’s quite fanciful.
 
It could actually just be that the repositioning of police officers has been done with nothing but sincere intentions to boost crime fighting in the country; that the safety of residents, and not the security of mainly one individual and his allies, is being prioritised.
 
The country could actually be on a sound beneficial path in terms of corruption. What is happening could be resulting in the restoration of public faith in policing and those involved in it.
 
Imagine that.
 
The imagination knows no bounds.
 
Then again, it seems that neither does reality.

- Caryn Dolley is deputy news editor of News24.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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