Mystery of the ‘missing’ record in top cops' transfer

2016-12-13 20:53
(Jenna Etheridge, News24)

(Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town – Mystery surrounds the transfer of two police officers in the Western Cape, after it emerged in court that there was seemingly no trace of documents informing their sudden redeployment.

Major-General Jeremy Vearey, former deputy provincial commissioner for detective services, and Major-General Peter Jacobs, who headed the Western Cape’s Crime Intelligence unit, were effectively demoted in June. 

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 been involved in several high-profile investigations.

With the help of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, they approached the courts to have the decision reviewed.

The matter was before the Cape Town Labour Court on Tuesday.

To test the rationality of the decision to redeploy Vearey and Jacobs, they had needed minutes of meetings and/or deliberations by SA Police Service and its top officials in the time leading up to the transfers.

When only a few, illegible pages were forthcoming, they applied to the Labour Court to compel the respondents to produce all the documents.

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

The National Instruction 6 of 2005 comprises very strict checks and balances for selection and appointment of police officers. Written records of all proceedings in the selection process have to be kept safe in the division or province for three years.

Provincial organisational organogram

The police chief is empowered to make appointments without advertising, but only in “exceptional circumstances”. These circumstances have to be recorded in writing.

In a mysterious twist, the provincial head of the police’s legal services stated in an answering affidavit, signed on Monday, that he “diligently” searched for the requested record without success.

“I discovered that when the decisions under review were made on 13 June 2016, there were no documents or minutes before the decision-makers at the time,” Felix Mbeki stated. 

The only document taken into account at a certain meeting was a provincial organisational organogram. An illegible copy of this was sent to Vearey and Jacobs.

“No further documents relating to this review application exist.”

He denied that the police was concealing important information from the court.

The court was confronted with this issue on Tuesday, but did not hear argument.

In an order by agreement, the respondents confirmed there were no other documents relating to the men's transfer. The issue thus became moot.

The respondents agreed to deliver legible copies of the few pages already in the applicants’ possession.

Killing season

Jacobs said in his founding affidavit that these pages were mostly irrelevant. To highlight the urgency of the application, he pointed to the province’s murder statistics and the fact that “we are now approaching 'killing season', that is December and January”.

“The fact that Cape Town has been described as the murder capital of the world is of enormous concern,” stated Jacobs.

In a replying affidavit, he said it was “simply shocking” that there was no trace of the documents.

Without the record, SAPS could not claim the decision to transfer them was rational and had a legitimate goal, he said.

Vearey said outside court that the order was a “victory and step along the way” for constitutional labour relations for all police officers.

Their fight was to prevent the “Hlaudification” of the police, he said, in reference to SABC executive Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

The review application would be heard at a later stage.


Read more on:    popcru  |  saps  |  cape town

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