Top Cape cop appointed head of detectives after ‘demotion’ spat

2018-04-12 19:37
Jeremy Vearey. (Jenna Etheridge, News24, file)

Jeremy Vearey. (Jenna Etheridge, News24, file)

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Top Western Cape police officer Major General Jeremy Vearey has been appointed as the province's deputy commissioner of crime detection – a position he was previously suddenly transferred from in a move which led him to take legal action to have it reversed.

This comes barely two weeks after it was announced that Lieutenant General Peter Jacobs, who was suddenly transferred from his role as provincial head of Crime Intelligence at the same time as Vearey's transfer in June 2016, has been appointed the head of the police's Crime Intelligence nationally.

The tables have therefore turned completely for the duo who, less than a year ago, were still trying to be reinstated to the positions they held at that stage.

In June 2016, Vearey, who at the time was deputy provincial commissioner for detective services, was suddenly shifted to a position he had previously filled - commander of the Cape Town cluster of police stations.

Jacobs, who headed the province's Crime Intelligence unit, was appointed Wynberg cluster commander.

Major General Patrick Mbotho replaced Vearey, while Major General Mzwandile Tiyo replaced Jacobs.

After their transfers Vearey and Jacobs, supported by Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), took the matter to the Cape Town Labour Court where in August 2016 it was ruled that they should be reinstated in their previous positions.

READ: Labour Court sets aside 'demotion' of 2 Western Cape top cops

However, this did not happen immediately.

Vearey and Jacobs had argued that they believed they were effectively demoted because of critical national investigations they were handling, including South Africa's biggest ever gun-smuggling investigation.

The gun-smuggling investigation involved firearms and unfounded political perceptions about them.

READ: Top cops claim critical investigations derailed by politics

They had said that former MP Vytjie Mentor's statement about state capture, which she had wanted Vearey to take down, and the fact that they regularly reported to then national police commissioner Riah Phiyega about the firearms probe, resulted in them being sidelined and the effective crippling of investigations in which they played instrumental roles.

Mbotho and Tiyo, the two officers who took over from them after their sudden transfers, were named recently in a bail application that centred around suspected underworld kingpin Nafiz Modack.

Vearey, as head of the Cape Town cluster of police in December 2017, had been instrumental in Modack's arrest.

Charl Kinnear, a police colonel who is investigating fights in Cape Town clubs, testified during Modack's bail application that there was a recording of Modack in a meeting with Vearey and Russell Christopher, a former State Security Agency official who trained with Vearey in the ANC's intelligence structures prior to 1994.

The meeting happened on May 5, 2017.

"Nafiz Modack states he was dealing with high-ranking police officials and, should there ever be a problem, Tiyo and Mbotho can sort it out," Kinnear had testified.

He had been testifying about the "influence" Modack appeared to have.

Kinnear had also testified that in another recording, Modack had alleged Vearey was working with the 27s gang.

Modack and four co-accused were released on bail in this extortion and intimidation case which played out in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court following his arrest on December 15 until his release from custody on February 28.

In January, it emerged that Mbotho was no longer to be provincial head of detectives in the Western Cape.

At the time, Mbotho had said he was not aware that he may be transferred.

READ: Uncertainty about future of detective head who allegedly worked with Modack

Vearey and Jacobs, at the time of their June 2016 transfers, had been busy with investigating allegations regarding Project Impi and they argued that their effective demotions had nearly crippled the probe.

Part of this investigation related to an ex-police colonel, Chris Prinsloo, now serving a jail sentence, who previously said he had sold at least 2 000 firearms to Rondebosch businessman Irshaad "Hunter" Laher, who allegedly paid him to steal guns meant for destruction.

Laher and Vereeniging arms dealer Alan Raves are the accused in a case linked to the alleged selling of firearms, meant to have been destroyed by police, to gangsters in the Western Cape.

Both Laher and Raves are yet to go on trial.

Other aspects of Project Impi included looking into whether illicit firearms were being smuggled out of South Africa, if firearms were being stockpiled against the state by right-wing groups, and how cops were colluding with gangsters to smuggle guns to them.

Labour Court papers in the Vearey and Jacobs matter showed that at least 1 066 murders, 1 403 attempted murders and 315 other crimes were committed with the use of guns stolen from police.

Among those incidents were the shootings of 261 children. About 1 200 of these stolen guns are still apparently unaccounted for.

Read more on:    jeremy vearey

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