A defiant Jeremy Vearey strikes back over his dismissal by SAPS National Commissioner Khehla Sitole
A week after his swift dismissal by National Commissioner Khehla Sitole, former Western Cape Head of Detectives Jeremy Vearey has hit back in an exclusive interview with Daily Maverick, labelling the expeditious process to remove him as unprocedural.
On Wednesday, Vearey said the expeditious process that had been triggered to fire him had been “outside our disciplinary code” as he had not been afforded an opportunity to interrogate evidence related to the social media posts that landed him firmly in Sitole’s sights.
Regulation 9, said Vearey, provided that an employee charged with misconduct in terms of Regulation 9(2) “must appear at a Meeting, and not a disciplinary hearing”. (See para 17 in the embedded document below.)
Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga, the designated official in Vearey’s matter, stated in her written decision of the expeditious procedure that “the provisions of Regulation 11 regulate the holding of the normal disciplinary hearing, which is not the case in the matter before me”.
She added that at the Meeting, no witnesses would be called by either of the two parties.
“For that reason, there shall be no evidence led,” said Ntshinga.
In paragraph 19, Ntshinga stated “at the Meeting there will be no Points in Limnie [process that addresses a technical legal point], as there is no impartial chairperson to rule on the issues raised”.
Vearey said that while Sitole had targeted him over Facebook posts, there were far more pressing issues of national interest plaguing the SA Police Service that needed “swift action”.
These included, he said, the uncovering of the smuggling of SANDF military firearms, which were sold on to rebel forces in conflict zones and used against the SANDF’s soldiers.
Two other serious matters that had been ventilated in the courts, the sale of SAPS guns to gangsters and the attempted illegal purchase of a “grabber” by Crime Intelligence prior to the ANC’s 2017 elective conference at Nasrec, had also seen “no resulting action”.
Sitole is locked in a battle with Minister of Police Bheki Cele with regard to his own conduct and that of his two deputies who were excoriated by the courts for pushing back for three years against an IPID investigation.
With regard to the offending Facebook posts, Vearey told Daily Maverick that “my version was not tested against the version of others”.
Sitole, said Vearey, had been a complainant in the matter as he felt that he had personally been brought into disrepute by the posts.
“He appointed General [Liziwe] Ntshinga as a designated official, he appointed the investigator and he made the final decision in a matter in which he has a direct stake in the charge,” said Vearey.
The question that needed to be asked, however, suggested Vearey, was why there was such “an energetic effort to cull a general”.
While Sitole had acted swiftly in his matter, the three “very large” issues alluded to earlier remained unresolved were “imminently more serious by virtue of their corrupt nature”, warned the veteran cop.
These were all in the public domain, the most pressing being the “Nasrec Grabber” scandal when Crime Intelligence, headed then by Brigadier Bhoyi Ngcobo, attempted to procure a surveillance device at the hugely inflated price of R45-million prior to the ANC’s elective conference in 2017.
In January 2021, Judge Norman Davis, in the Pretoria High Court, handed down a scathing judgment of the SAPS and Sitole’s attempt at dodging, for three years, the declassification of documents for an IPID investigation into the Grabber matter.
Norman found that Sitole, Lieutenant-General Francinah Vuma, Divisional Commissioner: Financial Management and Administration and Lieutenant-General Lebeona Tsumane, Deputy National Commissioner: CrimeDetection had placed the interests of the governing party, the ANC, above those of the country.
The court also found that the officers had breached their duties as law enforcement officers.
Taking the matter on appeal in March 2021, Sitole took a further blow when Davis, dismissing his application, said “Rather than comply with their statutory duties as police officers willing to contribute to the investigation of crimes, they sought legal assistance and on this basis thwarted IPID’s investigation.”
In the same week, Sitole grudgingly reinstated Lieutenant-General Peter Jacobs, the suspended head of Crime Intelligence, but relegated him to a neutralised position in the Divisional Inspectorate. Jacobs’ application to suspend a disciplinary hearing later succeeded in the labour court.
“This type of vanity litigation is done with taxpayers’ money,” said Vearey.
Police Minister Bheki Cele has called for an inquiry into Sitole’s fitness to hold office. Sitole has, in turn, written to President Cyril Rampahosa asking for an opportunity to explain himself in relation to the court judgment in the “Grabber” matter.
The second issue, said Vearey, related to the SAPS guns-to-gangs scandal, which saw the sentencing to 20 years in jail of former SAPS Brigadier Kobus Prinsloo.
“In the short window period, and it is on record, there were 1,400 deaths and multiple murders and attempted murders on the Cape Flats as a result of this,” said Vearey.
Vearey and Jacobs spearheaded Project Impi, which bust the SAPS firearm supply to gangsters and told Daily Maverick that the “malfeasance” of corrupt SAPS officers had been brought to the attention of senior SAPS leadership, including Sitole, who was Deputy National Commissioner at the time.
“We explained the crisis we faced. Riah Phiyega was National Commissioner and their failure to act on the information is damning,” said Vearey.
“After the sentencing of Prinsloo we received direction from the NPA about other lines of inquiry. We had to go look at alleged firearms being supplied to fuel the taxi conflict in KZN and the Eastern Cape,” said Vearey.
As has been well documented, including in Mark Shaw’s “Give Us More Guns”, Vearey and Jacobs were bumped off the guns-to-gangs case when they began to make links with taxi bosses and politicians in KZN.
“That matter was never explored further so we were removed and transferred to another matter,” he said.
The third major issue that required urgent investigation was the smuggling of military firearms from the SANDF and that were “landing up in conflict zones in where the SANDF was active and on the side of rebel forces…who were shooting us with our own guns”.
“Sitole failed to act in these areas. Yet he expeditiously initiates a process outside of our disciplinary regulations for a mere Facebook post,” said Vearey.
Vearey said his Facebook posts had not brought the police or management into disrepute.
Vearey is an award-winning writer who garnered the coveted kykNET-Rapport Book Prize in 2019 for his autobiography “Jeremy Vannie Elsies”. He has challenged the interpretation and translation of “Moer Hulle”, which he posted on Facebook alongside media articles relating to the suspension of Jacobs.
“The first thing is that ‘moer hulle’, in my language, Afrikaaps, is not a derogatory term,” Vearey schooled his persecutors.
In fact, even in the general guide to the Afrikaans language, it was not regarded as derogatory.
“In actual fact, the word translated is a deliberate misrepresentation and denigration of my traditional language, Afrikaaps,” said Vearey.
The phrase had been translated by Facebook’s automatic translation capacity as “Fuck them”, which had later been confirmed by a white Afrikaans-speaking member of the SAPS.
“But these were clearly not my words.”
Vearey’s second post using the phase “Time Longer Than Rope”, he said, was a reference to two books on slavery and oppression bearing that title.
He said he had clarified the reference during his hearing and that the investigating officer had assured him he would be given an opportunity to interrogate the translation and interpretation, but had failed to do so.
This had resulted in the expeditious process, which was not a disciplinary hearing as commonly understood in civilian employment.
General Ntshinga, who gave the verdict on Vearey, herself pointed out that any employee charged with misconduct had to appear at a meeting and not a disciplinary hearing, said Vearey.
There had been a corruption of the process “by not allowing evidence to be interrogated or witnesses to be cross-examined. This means whatever is said to the investigator will never face interrogation.”
With regard to a potential class action against the state and the SAPS by “where such firearms that were in our custody were used to kill and maim South African citizens, particularly women and children”, Vearey said he was willing to give evidence.
Vearey said he wanted to express his support for any action that civil society or any NGO would initiate in this regard.
“I will assist to the best of my ability when it comes to court.”
Vearey said his Facebook posts had been prompted after he had acted as an employer representative for Jacobs, an old friend and comrade, during his legal battles with Sitole and later also with Anti-Gang Unit head Andre Lincoln’s disciplinary.
“I want to state clearly that I could not in good conscience stand by and allow state resources to be abused to get rid of them by way of an expeditious process… I cannot stand and allow that. I cannot not allow your taxpayers’ money to be wasted on vanity and power-mongering litigation,” he said.
Vearey is set to testify in the second leg of the guns-to-gangs trial, which will take place in the Cape High Court in June.
He was also involved in investigating former Crime Intelligence CFO General Obed Nemutanzhela, accused of hampering an investigation into the theft of funds from the Crime Intelligence slush fund.
Vearey ended off saying he would cooperate with IPID “in terms of any evidence I have been provided with in terms of corruption and fraud”. DM
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