'What's your price?' Top cops asked in court

Cape Town – "What is your price?"

That's what a top official in the SAPS legal department asked two senior Western Cape police officers in the Labour Court in Cape Town on Wednesday.

"Everyone has a price. What do you want to drop the case?" Brigadier Arthur Mphahlele of the police's legal services asked major-generals Jeremy Vearey and Peter Jacobs. The court wasn't in session at the time, Netwerk24 reported.

Vearey, former deputy provincial commissioner for detective services; and Jacobs, who headed the Western Cape's Crime Intelligence unit, were effectively demoted in June last year. They approached the Labour Court to have the decision reviewed.

A visibly shocked Vearey initially looked at Mphahlele with complete surprise, shook his head and then said their case against the police wasn't about money, but about principles.

Principles over money

"When you talk about 'price', you are talking about money," Vearey said. He repeated that it wasn't about money, but about principles.

Mphahlele replied: "But what do you want to drop the case?"

Vearey said he and Jacobs had been incarcerated together, referring to their political imprisonment on Robben Island, and that they had sacrificed much more for much less.

Jacobs told Mphahlele that his actions were indicative of the moral decay in the police.

"When things reach crisis point, you ask what the price is."

He said it wasn't about money, but about the rule of law.

"It is about the constitutional right of the public to be protected, it is about policing, it is about our members and how they act," Jacobs said.

Mphahlele responded by saying he should probably have phrased his question differently.

Application to be heard at later stage

News24 earlier reported that the application for the Labour Court to review the decision to transfer the two high-ranking police officers did not go ahead as scheduled on Wednesday. Two days would be scheduled for the hearing in the next term.

It emerged at their last appearance in December that there was seemingly no trace of documents informing them of their sudden redeployment. Vearey was shifted to a position he previously filled – commander of the Cape Town cluster of police stations, while Jacobs was appointed Wynberg cluster commander.

They had asked for minutes of meetings and/or deliberations by the SA Police Service and its top officials in the time leading up to the transfers.

The respondents include the police minister, the acting national police commissioner, the Western Cape police commissioner, and the SAPS.

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