Police message leak hints at growing divisions between top Western Cape cops

2016-12-23 08:17
Western Cape police commissioner Khombinkosi Jula (Jenni Evans, News24)

Western Cape police commissioner Khombinkosi Jula (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town - An investigation has been ordered into the leaking of messages from a high-level policing chat group, which has highlighted apparent fractures dividing the Western Cape’s top tier of police officers.

At the centre of the probe is a leaked screengrab of WhatsApp messages between police cluster commanders, as well as Western Cape provincial Police Commissioner Khombinkosi Jula.

The leaked screengrab shows that Mitchells Plain police cluster commander Major-General Greg Goss sent a Facebook image of community activist and former community police forum chair Michael Jacobs to the group.

Jula then responded to the image asking: "Is this the nemesis?"

Goss replied: "Yess sir." (sic)

Jacobs, a well-known activist in Cape Town who is pushing for a commission of inquiry into policing in gang hotspot Mitchells Plain, told News24 he wanted to know why Goss had screengrabbed a photograph of him on Facebook and then sent it on to the police WhatsApp group.

He also questioned Jula’s response.

Goss did not respond to a request for comment and did not answer calls to his cellphone.

Nothing untoward

This week, Jula did not deny the contents of the leaked messages, but denied knowing Jacobs.

"In the course of executing my responsibilities, I task various officials with various taskings. And that includes Major-General Goss. I do not know Michael Jacobs and my conversation with Major-General Goss is not related to Michael Jacobs, but to operational police matters," Jula said.

"This chat group is for operational purposes. I will therefore sanction an investigation into how this information came into the public domain."

Jacobs is a supporter of top Western Cape police officer Major-General Jeremy Vearey.

The apparently tenuous relationship between Vearey and Goss previously cropped up in an affidavit by alleged 28s gang leader Ralph Stanfield.

In the affidavit, relating to his arrest on Good Friday this year on suspicion of assaulting a police officer, Stanfield said it appeared he was caught in a dispute between Vearey and Goss, who he said were vying for positions within the police.

"I am not going to be a 'whipping boy' for either of them," Stanfield’s affidavit said.

Goss was previously Cape Town cluster commander, and Vearey the Mitchells Plain cluster head.

Their positions are now reversed.

Goss previously made the news because he was unhappy with police work on his son’s murder. Greg Goss Junior was shot in Elsies River in June 2014, but the two suspected killers were released.

Dispute over top cops’ 'demotions'

Vearey, along with Major-General Peter Jacobs, is taking on police management in court as the two believe they were effectively demoted.

Earlier this year 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.

A respondent in the court matter is Jula.

Another respondent is Major-General Mzwandile Tiyo, who was appointed the head of provincial crime intelligence to replace Jacobs and who is also on the WhatsApp group.

In their court application, Vearey and Jacobs said when more than 250 firearms were recently discovered at a home in Valhalla Park, they were told, despite their expertise in probing illegal firearms, "to leave the scene of the crime".

They said this instruction apparently came from Tiyo.

Tiyo was previously the acting head of the Western Cape’s Crime Intelligence Unit and more than a year ago he also turned to the Labour Court in Cape Town as he felt victimised for having investigated the province’s former police commissioner Arno Lamoer.

Tiyo believed that in January 2014 Lamoer allegedly blocked him from becoming the province’s crime intelligence head.

Lamoer went on to be arrested and Tiyo was appointed as provincial crime intelligence head.

Lamoer is set to go on trial, along with four other senior police officers and a local businessman, in the Western Cape High Court next year on charges including corruption and racketeering.

He allegedly secretly accepted money from the businessman to cover expenses he could not afford, while the businessman was accused of bribing police and using his relationship with some officers to promote his own interests.

Read more on:    saps  |  cape town

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