SAPS IN CRISIS
High court orders police bosses to reinstate security for fired cop Jeremy Vearey
A protection detail assigned to Jeremy Vearey, the major-general dismissed from the police at the end of May, was withdrawn at the start of this month. The Western Cape High Court has now ordered that police bosses must reverse this.
Fired policeman Jeremy Vearey, who believes his life is in danger and that cops are unfairly targeting him and certain colleagues, has got his security detail back.
On Thursday the high court ordered National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole and Provincial Commissioner Thembisile Patekile to assign vetted security – Tactical Response Team members – to Vearey. This was to come into effect on the same day.
It further ordered that when Vearey has to testify in court matters and travel, they will, by prior arrangement, provide him with boosted security.
Whether or not Vearey’s attempts to be reinstated in the South African Police Service succeed, these measures will possibly remain in place.
This matter relating to security would be heard further at a date that was yet to be set.
Meanwhile, the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council is set to proceed with a hearing into Vearey’s dismissal from the police, which he is trying to overturn, towards the end of this month.
Earlier this month, launching an urgent application to have his security reinstated, Vearey said in an affidavit: “I respectfully submit that my dismissal is none other than a method to achieve the ulterior motives of senior police management.
“It cannot be excluded that the purpose of withdrawing my protection is to discourage me from testifying in the high-profile criminal matters scheduled to take place as a result of my investigations and/or investigations that I mandated.”
On 28 May Sitole signed off on Vearey’s dismissal.
Prior to this Vearey, who headed detectives in the Western Cape, was found guilty of misconduct over some of his Facebook posts which some police officers viewed as disrespectful to Sitole, among others.
On 23 June, barely a month after he was dismissed, Vearey received a letter informing him that the protection detail assigned to him would be withdrawn at the end of the month.
The letter was signed by Patekile, who was recently announced as the new Western Cape police commissioner.
At the time, Western Cape police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa told Daily Maverick: “As a norm, the SAPS does not divulge information on the security of individuals. Even in the case you are making enquiries about, there will be no deviation.”
Vearey told Daily Maverick the withdrawal of security would further endanger his life as he was set to testify in a high-profile gang-related matter in August.
This was one of the reasons he approached the high court to have the police reinstate his protection.
Vearey, in his affidavit, explained that he had been the target of threats for at least half a decade.
“Approximately five years ago I was officially informed by Crime Intelligence that threats on my life have been identified,” he said.
“These threats emanate from criminal gangs and even police officers… A threat and risk assessment confirmed the threats.”
The police service’s security management assigned four bodyguards to him on a 24/7 basis.
Vearey said: “The threats emanate from my duties and responsibilities as the Deputy Provincial Commissioner (Detective Services). The suspects identified by me were high-profile gang leaders and corrupt police officers.
“The most prominent operation which led to my occupational detriment, harassment and continued threats, was the unbundling and arresting of the leaders of criminal syndicates who were/are involved in smuggling and proliferation of firearms from SAPS to gangs on the Cape Flats.”
In early 2014 Vearey was instrumental in setting up Project Impi – a massive investigation into how firearms meant to be in the custody of police were ending up with gangsters in the Western Cape.
“By January 2015 these weapons had been linked to over 1,000 gang murders and many more gang attempted murders,” Vearey said in his affidavit.
He and Lieutenant-General Peter Jacobs, who at one stage was Crime Intelligence head in the Western Cape, steered Project Impi.
While Jacobs was provincial Crime Intelligence boss he had warned Vearey of a new threat against him, which emanated from a leader of the 28s gang who Vearey said had links to prominent politicians.
“Two gang hitmen with an AK-47 assault rifle and a sniper, scoped hunting rifle, were arrested,” Vearey’s affidavit said.
“The information used to monitor me had come from corrupt police officers. I was then placed under police guard.”
In 2015 one of Vearey’s “biggest successes… was the conviction of one George “Geweld” Thomas, a hardcore gangster boss of the 28s for almost unspeakable acts of violence.”
“He received seven life sentences after being convicted of over 50 charges, including murder and extortion. Crime Intelligence alerted me that I was a target of the 28s as a result of the conviction of ‘Geweld’.”
As this was happening, Project Impi investigations continued.
Vearey, in his affidavit, said it led him and Jacobs to police headquarters in Pretoria.
“A Colonel Prinsloo who was the Provincial Head of Firearms Control in Gauteng told us that about 2,000 guns [had been stolen] from the SAPS firearms stores where thousands of firearms earmarked for destruction were kept,” Vearey said.
“Some of these had been sold on the Cape Flats and that SANDF weapons were sold to arms dealers.”
The “Colonel Prinsloo” that Vearey referred to was Chris Prinsloo who in mid-2016 was sentenced to 18 years in jail for his role in the scandal – Prinsloo has since become a state witness.
In June 2016, as Project Impi was still developing, both Vearey and Jacobs were suddenly transferred from the positions they held in the police service in the Western Cape at the time.
They said this effectively derailed investigations.
After Jacob Zuma stepped down as President in 2018 and Cyril Ramaphosa became head of state, Jacobs was later promoted to national Crime Intelligence head, while Vearey was reinstated in a permanent capacity as Western Cape detective head.
Later that year, in November, the Anti-Gang Unit was launched in the Western Cape.
Vearey was instrumental in setting it up and it was headed by Major-General Andre Lincoln.
Tragedy struck the unit in September 2020 when one of its members, Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear, was assassinated.
At the time of his murder, he was not under police protection despite known threats to his life.
Kinnear and Lincoln had been investigating allegations that police officers in Gauteng were involved in creating fraudulent firearm licences for suspects in the Western Cape.
Since the start of 2021 Jacobs, Vearey and Lincoln, who each have similar roots in the ANC, have come up against cop bosses.
In short: Jacobs was shifted from national Crime Intelligence head to the police’s Inspectorate division (some of his allies saw this as a demotion), Jacobs and Lincoln both faced allegations relating to the lack of Kinnear’s security at the time of his murder, and Vearey was fired over Facebook posts.
In his affidavit in the Western Cape High Court security issue, Vearey said: “I conclude by saying that there is an orchestrated stratagem to get rid of Jacobs, Lincoln and I.
“We exposed corruption in the police and we diligently committed ourselves to the eradication of gang activities and police corruption.” DM
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