Guest Column

Why scandal is following Western Cape police

2017-05-15 12:50

Caryn Dolley

Three court cases playing out in Cape Town are emphasising the fractious state of policing in the province, which is experiencing a surge in underworld violence.

The underworld turf battle, also linked to other provinces, has in turn sparked several shootings in already volatile gang hotpots.

While drive-by shootings are playing out, gunmen plot and make their way around the city centre, and as more and more innocent residents are put at risk, the three court cases have been developing.

These cases are further exposing internal divisions within police at a time when stringent policing is most needed.

It is happening as rumours of police, Crime Intelligence and Hawks’ involvement in the underworld persist.    

Several sources, with links to police, gangs, as well as the underworld itself, insist the turf war to try and gain control of nightclub security, the tobacco industry and drug peddling, is being orchestrated by intelligence operatives and informants.

This elaborate scheme, they say, is either to protect kingpins, or to take them down.

To add to this theory, earlier this month News24 witnessed alleged underworld head Nafiz Modack meeting with Northern Cape police commissioner Risimati Shivuri in an upmarket Cape Town hotel.

The reason for the meeting remains unclear.

Whatever is driving underworld ructions, the fact remains that violence is surging in the Western Cape and therefore policing to try and clamp down on it is even more crucial.

The court cases involve some of the province’s most senior police officers.

These cases are as follows:

• Former provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer and three brigadiers - Darius van der Ross, Sharon Govender and her husband Collin Govender, have pleaded not guilty to 109 charges of corruption, racketeering, and money laundering involving R1.6m. The trial is playing out in the Western Cape High Court. The officers allegedly received "gratifications" they did not declare in exchange for advancing businessman Salim Dawjee's personal and business interests. The accused have claimed there were legitimate and legal reasons for the transactions

• In the same court as the Lamoer matter, Major-General Andre Lincoln is claiming R15m in damages from the Minister of Police. In 1996, former President Nelson Mandela tasked Lincoln with leading a presidential investigative task unit to investigate Vito Palazzolo, a Cape Town-based Italian mafioso and his links to government officials, police, and businessmen. He was arrested when criminal allegations against him and others in the unit then surfaced. Lincoln appealed and in 2003 was acquitted of all the charges.
Lincoln is now claiming the damages for alleged malicious prosecution.

• In the Labour Court, major-generals Jeremy Vearey and Peter Jacobs are fighting what they believe were their effective demotions. Vearey was the deputy provincial commissioner for detective services. Jacobs headed the Western Cape's Crime Intelligence Unit. In June last year Vearey was told to go back to his old job as head of the Cape Town cluster of police stations, and Jacobs was sent to head the Wynberg cluster of police stations. Both considered this a demotion, and the stripping of expertise from the anti-gang and anti-corruption units in the province.

In short: The province’s former top cop, Lamoer, is on trial for corruption. Jacobs and Vearey, who both worked under Lamoer and who were involved in intelligence and gang investigations, are fighting to get their previous jobs back. And Lincoln, who also worked under Lamoer tackling gangs at one stage, is effectively suing the police minister for “malicious prosecution.”

This means that two critical functions of the Western Cape police - tackling gangsterism, one of the biggest crime problems strangling the province, and crime intelligence operations – are tainted by scandals.

In the Lamoer case, his plea explanation included a paragraph saying: “I respectfully suggest that my prosecution contains an element of ulterior motive and that I am concerned that I am proverbially being ‘witch hunted’.”

It has emerged in the Labour Court that it is believed ulterior motives also led to Vearey and Jacobs being shifted from their previous positions.

Vearey in March told News24 that he was aware of senior colleagues peddling "rumours" that he, together with an alleged gang boss, orchestrated another gang boss’s murder.

"This is another attempt by certain senior officers within the SA Police Service, in collusion with a 28s gangster, to discredit me," Vearey had said.

Lincoln, in his civil trial, previously testified that senior police officers had framed him leading to him being “maliciously prosecuted”

"It was malice; personal hatred that drove this prosecution,” he had said.

Lincoln was affected by the so-called demotions of Vearey and Jacobs. Veary was shifted to the role of Cape Town cluster commander, which Lincoln had filled. Lincoln was therefore moved to a Winelands post.

One has to question what has led to these officers finding themselves in courtrooms. Several questions come to mind. But in light of alleged plots and claims of ulterior motives, one question cannot be ignored.

Are they being targeted because they were pursuing criminal trails which led them up the ranks of the police?

- Caryn Dolley is deputy news editor at 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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