SAPS IN CRISIS
Top cop Peter Jacobs wins yet another court battle in disciplinary war with boss Khehla Sitole
In March, Lieutenant-General Jacobs succeeded in his Labour Court quest to suspend a disciplinary hearing against him. Now he’s fended off another hearing – this time in connection with slain cop Charl Kinnear.
Peter Jacobs, previously the head of Crime Intelligence and now heading the police’s Inspectorate, has once again succeeded in a Labour Court matter against national Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole.
Jacobs and his colleague, Andre Lincoln, head of the Anti-Gang Unit in the Western Cape, face allegations over the security of Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear who was assassinated on 18 September 2020 outside his Bishop Lavis home in Cape Town.
This meant that Lincoln and Jacobs were among Kinnear’s superiors.
Disciplinary processes were launched against Lincoln and Jacobs relating to security measures around Kinnear in the run-up to his murder.
But they both applied to suspend this hearing against them, referring the matter to the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council (SSSBC).
However, it is understood their applications were turned down on 4 May, meaning the hearing was set to proceed on Tuesday, 25 May.
Jacobs turned to the Labour Court in Johannesburg to effectively halt the hearing (this was not opposed by the police).
Lincoln launched a separate Labour Court process in Cape Town.
Both Jacobs and Lincoln – who initiated Labour Court action in the provinces in which they are based – were up against Sitole and Lieutenant-General Japie Riet, chairperson of the disciplinary proceedings against them.
Jacobs’s Labour Court matter culminated in a court order this week, dated 18 May 2021 and date stamped on Thursday. It said that Riet’s decision to refuse a suspension of the disciplinary matter against Jacobs pending the outcome of the SSSBC referral “is reviewed and set aside”.
Sitole and Riet, the order said, were “interdicted and restrained from proceeding with the internal disciplinary proceedings” against Jacobs, pending the Protected Disclosures Act referral.
Based on an affidavit he filed in the Johannesburg Labour Court, Jacobs had felt disciplinary action was launched against him due to protected disclosures he made against other senior police officers. Some of these disclosures related to Kinnear and others to alleged wrongdoing by cops.
This is why Jacobs wanted the disciplinary action halted, pending his referral of the matter to the SSSBC. The SSSBC hearing is set for 1 July 2021.
It is understood the Johannesburg Labour Court order relating to Jacobs – setting aside Riet’s refusal to suspend the disciplinary hearing – may also affect the disciplinary process against Lincoln because he is a co-accused with Jacobs in it.
However, Lincoln’s application to the Labour Court in Cape Town may still proceed.
Lincoln wanted the court to pause the disciplinary proceedings to wait for the outcome of Jacobs’s Labour Court application to avoid two rulings on the same matter.
Lincoln also wanted an independent chairperson appointed to preside over the disciplinary hearing because he does not believe he will receive a fair hearing if it is chaired by a police employee.
Both Lincoln and Jacobs, in founding affidavits in their respective Labour Court actions, said they felt “persecuted” within the police.
This month’s Labour Court success is Jacobs’s second against colleagues in about four months.
In February, he approached the same court because he had been the focus of a disciplinary hearing relating to allegations of personal protective equipment procurement irregularities involving the secret service account.
But claims had surfaced that three police officers steering that disciplinary process did not have security clearance and were therefore not legally entitled to have access to classified documents that were critical to the matter.
A criminal complaint over this was lodged on behalf of Jacobs at the Silverton police station in Pretoria relating to the contravention of the Protection of Information Act and the Intelligence Act.
This derailed that disciplinary action and Jacobs was later successful in a Labour Court quest to have it halted. DM