Police managers 'decimated' gun smuggling investigation resulting in murders - 2 top cops

2017-08-03 18:17
Major-General Jeremy Vearey (left) and Major-General Peter Jacobs outside the Cape Town Labour Court on Thursday. (Caryn Dolley, News24)

Major-General Jeremy Vearey (left) and Major-General Peter Jacobs outside the Cape Town Labour Court on Thursday. (Caryn Dolley, News24)

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Cape Town - Police management, despite knowing the extent of a mammoth gun smuggling investigation involving at least 1 066 murders and implicating officers who colluded with gangsters, pulled resources off the probe instead of dedicating more to it.

This meant killings which could have been prevented may not have been.

And senior police officers, including a former Gauteng provincial police commissioner, may have been negligent in overseeing what happened to firearms under their watch.

Details of these allegations, as well as others which reveal distrust and divisions within the top tier of Western Cape police officers, are contained in a Cape Town Labour Court judgment delivered on Thursday.

'Demotions' overturned

The case focuses on Major-General Jeremy Vearey and Major-General Peter Jacobs, two senior Western Cape police officers who, along with the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), approached the court in 2016 after they believed they were effectively demoted.

In June 2016, Vearey, who 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.

They found these moves unfair.

Both had been involved in several high-level investigations, including a national one into taxi violence links between Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

On Thursday the Labour Court ruled in favour of the two, setting aside their June 2016 deployments.

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

This decision was referred back to their bosses as a fresh decision needed to be made.

The court also ruled the police must pay the costs of the application - which the duo’s lawyer Clive Hendricks estimated to be around R600 000.

On Thursday after the judgment, Vearey said he was prepared to start work in his former role immediately.

Both he and Jacobs would report to the provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula to see when, or if they would indeed be allowed back to their former positions.

"The battle hasn't ended," Vearey said.

Corruption, gangsters and guns

Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker's ruling referred to a founding affidavit by Jacobs.

"Investigation into criminal gang activity in the Western Cape revealed that corrupt officials were both supplying illegal firearms and illegally providing firearm licences to gang leaders such as [alleged 28s gang boss] Ralph Stanfield," it said.

Jacobs, in the affidavit, also referred to the investigation into Rondebosch businessman Irshaad "Hunter" Laher and Vereeniging arms dealer Alan Raves.

An ex-police colonel, Chis Prinsloo, now serving a jail sentence for his role in the saga, previously said he had sold at least 2 000 firearms to Laher who allegedly paid him to steal guns stored by police meant for destruction.

Jacobs said the result of the illegal guns supply was the injury and death of many people.

"Self-evidently this use of weapons should have necessitated the increased allocation of resources to recover them and prevent further killing in the public interest.

"The SAPS elected to do the opposite."

Jacobs's affidavit said 1 066 murders were carried out with the guns between 2010 and 2014.

"This figure will grow exponentially unless the firearms are recovered."

1 200 firearms unaccounted for

Jacobs said 1 200 firearms stolen by Prinsloo were still doing the rounds and would likely be used to carry out murders.

"I should also point out that our investigation revealed that senior police officers, some of whom have already retired (such as Lieutenant General Petros, the provincial commissioner of Gauteng between 2010 and 2014) appear to have been negligent in management of their responsibility to oversee the destruction of the aforementioned firearms."

Jacobs said the police minister had been briefed on the extent and implication of the investigation.

Police could be held liable for damage to civilians caused by the guns.

Jacobs, in his affidavit, said instead of curtailing this, police "elected to curtail our investigations by transferring us and decimating the team we supervised".

"In addition our investigation has revealed that police officials, of whom three have been arrested at this stage, have colluded with gang leaders to facilitate the provision of firearm licences to gangs illegally and fraudulently," he said.

Senior managers at the Central Firearm Registry may also be liable for being negligent.

Taxi violence 

Jacobs said in April 2016 he and Vearey were tasked, by the acting national crime intelligence head, Major-General Agnes Makhele, with addressing inter-provincial taxi violence between Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal.

Vearey, in his founding papers, said the former acting national police commissioner had, at the request of the Eastern Cape policing head, instructed him to help with the murder of three gang members, given his expertise.

"He nevertheless fails and refuses to utilise my gang fighting skills, as SAPS previously did, in resolving ongoing gang conflict and investigation in the Western Cape," he said.


Following Jacob's removal as Western Cape Crime Intelligence head, Major-General Mzwandile Tiyo was appointed in the position.

The judgment said that Jacobs had apparently received complaints about Tiyo's qualifications - that Tiyo had not obtained a matric certificate, nor the security clearance necessary to perform his duties.

A letter from Tiyo's attorney was attached to Jacobs' founding papers.

The judgment referred to this letter.

It said Tiyo did not trust Jacobs.

"[Tiyo] has advised you of his distrust of General Jacobs as a result of the treatment he received and will not be able to work with or under General Jacobs," it said.

Read more on:    cape town  |  gangs  |  crime  |  guns  |  police

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