South Africa

IPID REPORT ON POLICE

Rogue cop unit in the Western Cape ‘exists’ and drove divisions in the province’s police – SAPS watchdog

(Photo: Gallo Images / Roger Sedres)

Evidence suggests a ‘rogue unit’ of police officers operated in the Western Cape – an issue assassinated cop Charl Kinnear blew the whistle on two years before his murder. This is one of five articles in which Daily Maverick unpacks the Independent Police Investigative Directorate’s (Ipid) findings into how police let Kinnear down.

In December 2018 Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear sent a critical and detailed 59-page letter of complaint to his bosses.

The core of his complaint was that certain police officers in the Western Cape, some with links to Crime Intelligence, were working to frame him and some of his colleagues, including former Anti-Gang Unit boss Andre Lincoln, police Inspectorate head Peter Jacobs, and Jeremy Vearey, who was Western Cape detective head until he was fired at the end of May this year.

Kinnear further claimed some of the officers were aligned to Nafiz Modack, now a suspect in Kinnear’s murder.

But nothing came of his complaints.

However, Ipid has now found the “rogue unit” likely existed and recommended that four officers involved in it be charged internally.

It has also found that the conduct of the head of Crime Intelligence in the Western Cape, Mzwandile Tiyo, should be looked at, especially because of his seeming non-action to claims of a rogue unit.

Tiyo had allegedly not wanted to cooperate with Ipid’s investigation and the watchdog found that in doing so, “He missed the opportunity to clear the air regarding the alleged failures of the Western Cape Crime Intelligence.”

Kinnear was assassinated outside his Bishop Lavis home in Cape Town on 18 September 2020.

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Read more in Ipid Report on Police series:

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At the time of Kinnear’s killing, no security detail was assigned to him, despite it being known that threats had been made on his life.

This led to police bosses including National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole and Police Minister Bheki Cele calling on Ipid to investigate this.

Daily Maverick has seen Ipid’s findings on this investigation which seemed to have concluded in September and signed off on in October.

National police have also confirmed receipt of Ipid’s findings and recommendations and are analysing these. The rogue unit formed part of its investigation and featured in its findings.

After Kinnear had complained of rogue officers operating in the Western Cape back in December 2018, Peter Jacobs, at that stage the national head of Crime Intelligence, labelled the group of officers a “rogue” unit.

Jacobs was subsequently controversially transferred earlier this year from heading Crime Intelligence to head the police’s Inspectorate.

Ipid, in its findings, sided with Jacobs (who, it also found, could not be held liable for Kinnear’s lack of security as he was absent in that period).

“There is a serious case to be made out that the unit acted as a rogue unit within Crime Intelligence environment reporting to [a particular brigadier], by virtue of how it had operated and the manner it had investigated certain senior members such as Major General Veary, Lieutenant General Jacobs and the late Lieutenant Colonel Kinnear and acting outside the scope of crime intelligence and outside the authority of SAPS management to investigate above members,” Ipid’s report said.

“The team had not registered any of their investigations as a project or produced any proof of such registration being considered by the SAPS national project evaluation committee to prove any form of legitimacy for their actions.”

Ipid found the “rogue unit” had created animosity among police leaders in the Western Cape.

“This may have created a perfect opportunity for underworld syndicates and figures such as Nafiz Modack to infiltrate SAPS to monitor the movement of key role players including the use of state resources,” it said.

The Ipid findings further said it was “established that Mr Nafiz Modack had been registered as a source within the Crime Intelligence environment”.

This has not been corroborated in a court, although questions about it have previously surfaced – in a 2018 case Modack was central to, a Hawks affidavit had said it was not known if he was a registered informant.

Ipid recommended that four officers be departmentally charged in relation to the rogue unit situation for conduct that brings the police into disrepute.

Meanwhile, Tiyo had apparently not cooperated with Ipid’s investigators.

Ipid found that: “The failure by Major General Tiyo and or Western Cape Crime Intelligence to assess the threats on the life of the late Lieutenant Colonel Kinnear during 2019 should be seen as a major contributor to the eventual withdrawal of the protection on the life of the late Lieutenant Colonel Kinnear and his family.”

However, Ipid ascertained that Tiyo had already been the subject of an expeditious process – an internal disciplinary matter into Kinnear’s security and was cleared.

It, therefore, found that any recommendation it made against him would simply be academic and amount to “double jeopardy” as he had already been acquitted.

In terms of the rogue unit, it said Tiyo’s failure to “acknowledge or even attempt to arrest the suspicion of a rogue into is questionable”.

Ipid recommended Sitole take action to ensure Tiyo faced accountability in terms of reputational damage “caused by the rogue unit and the divide caused in the Western Cape SAPS”.

Former Western Cape commissioner Khombinkosi Jula was also the focus of Ipid.

It found he initially said he knew about the arrangement of the unit, but then “conceded in the recorded interview with the Ipid task team that he was deceived into believing that the establishment of the unit was to investigate the underworld networks and syndicates and confirmed that their investigation of senior members within SAPS was not within their terms or scope of reference or mandate”.

On Friday, 12 November 2021, national police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo confirmed to Daily Maverick it received Ipid’s recommendations.

“The files with the recommendations were received by the SAPS human resource department this week and they are currently being perused before the national commissioner and deputy national for support are briefed on how this matter will be dealt with moving forward [sic],” he said.

“It is also important to note that in view of this being an internal matter the names of the members against whom recommendations are being made shall not be disclosed.”

Ipid spokesperson Grace Langa said: “An update on this matter will be provided as soon as Ipid finalises its own internal processes.” DM

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  • Where’s the urgency? It is a national emergency that the SAPS is so incredibly debilitated. It is URGENT not simply a matter to wait for updates about. Where is Cele, and in his absence the President, giving the public the assurance that the SAPS will not run amuck in and what provisions have been put in place to contain what could become a violent backlash targeting the other officer and public (even in the crossfire)?

  • PRO bullshit ,”Saps is busy with internal processes”proforma answer to avoid transparency and accountability.The organization is compromised and taken over by corrupt individuals who use processes and even create false charges against the honest so their criminality with financial benefits can continue.The founding fathers of America had foresight in allowing civilians to arm themselves for situations like this ,where the goverment and or some of its arms become the enemy of the people(civilians).

  • CR knew that sorting out the SAPS was urgent when he came president but it’s just another thing that he has been reluctant to tackle. At least now he can’t say that he doesn’t know about it.

    • I fully agree with you Charles. This is not just a police matter, it is a matter that effects all citizens of this country. The issues around Kinnear, Jacobs, and Veary was public knowledge long before Kinnear was murdered, Veary fired, and Jacobs removed and demoted. The President and his cronies did nothing, absolutely zero. CR is so surrounded by criminals, even in his cabinet that he appointed, that it has become the norm. The articles on this IPID report by Caryn and Marianne just illustrates how deep the rot is in the police, but more than that, in the presidency itself. I was listening on the radio station RSG yesterday where a major research company in South Africa discussed their latest research amongst a representative sample of all South Africans. The number one concern/worry by a long shot is not poverty, joblessness, Covid-19 or poor municipal service delivery. It is the fear of criminal action that will affect them directly, like house burglary, hi-jacking, criminal assault, violence, murder, etc. This research is conducted every few months, different samples, but the results remain consistent. That being the case, why did CR not made an ethical police service the number 1 priority? Why, why? There are some good cops out there, but many of them are ashamed to be called a police officer, and many has left the force because they are simply unable to deal with criminality within their own ranks

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