Deputy police minister threatens to sue ousted community police head over 'treason' claims

2017-01-31 19:10
Maggie Sotyu (File)

Maggie Sotyu (File)

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Cape Town - Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu has given ousted Mitchells Plain community policing head Hanif Loonat two weeks to either apologise or prove his claims that she is conspiring with senior officers to intentionally destabilise policing in the Western Cape.

If Loonat does not do so, she will take legal action against him.

Two of the province's top police officers are also planning to take action against him if he is not able to prove what he has said, with one of them saying he has effectively accused them of treason.

On Tuesday Loonat, who has labelled his ousting "a plot", told News24 he was seeking legal advice.

He declined to comment further.

Loonat, the former Mitchells Plain cluster community police forum chairperson, was effectively ousted from his position last Wednesday when eight community police forum heads signed a letter saying, among other things, that he was "manipulative".

Social media revelations

They also said his "personal political ambitions" were impacting negatively on them.

Reaction to his ousting, which included Loonat hosting a press conference at the Lentegeur police station on Monday, spilled over onto social media.

On Tuesday Loonat took to Facebook and said: "I would like to warn the Deputy Minister of Police Maggie Sothu [sic] to stop her plans of destabilising policing in the Western Cape."

Loonat further posted: "I was informed a few weeks ago that she was meeting with certain generals in the province who are ganging up against Gnl [Khombinkosi] Jula, the provincial commissioner of this challenged province… It is clear she is complicit in these immoral actions."

He said he wanted "a full investigation into my fears and claims" and would approach the Public Protector and Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

Later on Tuesday it appeared that Loonat had removed the post.

References 'obvious'

But this was not enough to satisfy Sotyu.

Her spokesperson Nomsa Hani said he had until February 14 to either publicly send an apology to Sotyu or provide proof of his claims.

"Failing to do so, we will proceed in earnest with legal processes against [him] for defamation of character and reputation, by spreading false, destructive and defamatory propaganda about the deputy minister of police," she said.

Police officer Major General Jeremy Vearey also told News24 on Tuesday that it was obvious that, while not naming them, Loonat was referring to him and Major General Peter Jacobs in his Facebook posts.

In another post Loonat had apparently said there were "certain generals appointed by the ANC as police officers who are part of this agenda".

Vearey said Loonat was acting "maliciously" by posting the comments as there were only a few generals in the province with ANC backgrounds.

Informers

"We deny we're involved in any agenda. We want people in this province to stop using our history.

"To try and use our history and demonise it… We will be doing something about it," Vearey said.

He would not elaborate on what that would be.

Vearey said Loonat's posts were "an extension of what happened with MECs and informers"."

"It's been characterised by their mental health challenges," he said.   

Vearey was apparently referring to claims he made last year that community safety MEC Dan Plato was running a smear campaign against him by using self-styled informers to allegedly tarnish Vearey's image. Plato denied the allegations.

Demotions

Last year it emerged that self-styled whistleblower Sylvano Hendricks, a transgender woman who calls herself Queeny Madikizela-Mandela, passed on allegations about Vearey being linked to gangsters to Plato.

In December Hendricks, who last year also told former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela that a Cape Town gangster had been paid R740 000 to have her killed, was arrested after breaking her parole conditions relating to a jail sentence of 12 years for various crimes.

Four years ago Plato provided to a number of journalists an affidavit by an informer, Pierre Mark Anthony Wyngaardt, in which it was also claimed Vearey was linked to gangsters.

When a weekend newspaper tracked Wyngaardt down, he described himself as a "prophet" who was "guided by angels".

On Tuesday Vearey said those who had in the past acted like Loonat had been "exposed".

He said Loonat's attack on him and Jacobs was "engineered".

Last 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.

The matter is being dealt with in the Labour Court in Cape Town and is one of several happenings that have exposed apparent rifts in the Western Cape's top tier of police.

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