The curious case of Major-General Jeremy Vearey’s missing qualifications

By Marianne Thamm 24 September 2019

Major-General Jeremy Vearey. (Photo: Jaco Marais)

When deputy provincial commissioner crime detection, Jeremy Vearey, submitted his application for the vacant post of Western Cape SAPS provincial commissioner, he sent off all necessary documents, qualification certificates among them, in a sealed envelope. Vearey, one of the most experienced and senior officers in the region, was later informed he had not made the shortlist as he had not attached his qualifications to his application.

Daily Maverick has reliably learned that two witnesses were present when Major-General Jeremy Vearey dispatched a sealed job application for the post of Western Cape SAPS provincial commissioner, which had included his qualifications, and these witnesses have deposed affidavits to this effect.

Vearey has since written to National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole, Deputy Commissioner Human Resource Management Bonang Mgwenya and Acting Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Sindile Mfazi alleging manipulation of the shortlisting process.

This, he said, was done “either by design or negligence on the part of head office”. Vearey and former Western Cape head of crime intelligence Peter Jacobs were sidelined in 2016 when then acting national commissioner Khomotso Phahlane demoted them. Both officers were working high-profile cases in the province when they were removed from their positions. They later won a lengthy and costly Labour Court action and Jacobs was later appointed national head of crime intelligence.

In his letter to Sitole and the other senior SAPS members, Vearey said he had reported his exclusion from the shortlist to the Police and Civil Rights Union (Popcru) and “further action” would be taken “if this problem is not corrected”.

The crime-ridden Western Cape has, since the reshuffle by Phahlane in 2016, been plagued by factional battles within the ranks of the SAPS (and with people seen to be aligned to former president Jacob Zuma). There are also tensions between the SAPS and the province’s governing party, the DA, which is determined to put in place a provincial police service under its control.

One of Premier Alan Winde’s election promises was to establish such a service, but it would require legislative changes. On 19 September 2019, Winde announced a R1-billion a year provincial safety plan that envisages deployment of 3,000 law enforcement officers and the training of 150 additional investigators.

Announcing the plan, Winde said it was the DA government’s aim to halve the province’s astronomical murder rate (60 per 100,000 people) in 10 years.

Winde, however, admitted he had not yet informed national government, the NPA or SAPS about this plan. While Vearey declined to comment on the matter, national police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo told Daily Maverick he was “not at liberty to communicate on such processes as they are happening”.

The commissioner’s office, he added, would comment once the process had been finalised. Former ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs claims the DA has been “maliciously campaigning” to prevent Vearey from occupying the top position. Jacobs has since asked Minister of Police Bheki Cele to intervene in what he calls “a compromised process”.

One of the members of the short-listing panel is DA MEC for safety Albert Fritz. Other contenders for the top job include Major-General Vincent Beaton of the Blue Downs policing cluster (which includes Nyanga, one of the country’s hottest crime spots) as well as Major-General Jan Scheepers, acting provincial commissioner in Limpopo. The position of provincial commissioner was left vacant when Lieutenant-General Khombinkozi Jula, also appointed by Phahlane, was suddenly transferred in July to become KwaZulu-Natal commissioner. DM



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