South Africa


Clear and Present Danger: Rogue cop unit could subvert Western Cape police service unless shut down

Clear and Present Danger: Rogue cop unit could subvert Western Cape police service unless shut down
Illustrative image | Sources: Adobe Stock | SAPS logo

Four members of a ‘rogue’ cop unit in the Western Cape should face departmental charges, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) has found. In November 2021 Daily Maverick reported on the watchdog’s preliminary findings into the run-up to detective Charl Kinnear’s murder. This is one of five articles now focusing on Ipid’s final findings.

Nearly two years before he was assassinated, Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear complained to his bosses that rogue police officers in the Western Cape were working to frame him and some of his colleagues. 

In his critical 59-page grievance letter, dated December 2018, he also claimed some of those cops were aligned to gang boss Nafiz Modack, who is now a suspect in his murder.

Nothing came of Kinnear’s complaints. He was assassinated outside his Bishop Lavis home in Cape Town on 18 September 2020.

Rogues and the underworld

It has now emerged that Ipid found a “rogue” style cop unit had indeed existed and “created further animosity amongst leadership sowing division” in the SA Police Service [SAPS] 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,” Ipid said.

This validates what Kinnear complained of back in December 2018.

In November last year Daily Maverick reported on Ipid’s preliminary findings into why police did not act properly to prevent Kinnear’s murder, which happened after threats were picked up against him.

Ipid’s preliminary findings, in terms of the so-called Western Cape “rogue” policing unit, said: “There is a serious case to be made out that the unit acted as a rogue unit within the Crime Intelligence environment reporting to [a particular brigadier]”.

Four cops and departmental charges

Now, in its final report dated May 2022 which Daily Maverick has seen, Ipid has recommended that four police officers – two captains, a warrant officer and the brigadier – who were among those Kinnear complained about and whose identities are known to Daily Maverick, should be departmentally charged.

“At the conclusion of the preliminary report on the Kinnear matter, the [Ipid] team establish[ed] that there are indeed rogue activities operating in the Western Cape, particularly within the Crime Intelligence milieu,” Ipid said, “the finding of the task team is that, if these rogue activities are allowed to continue, it has the potential to subvert the entire Western Cape Police Services.”

It has also raised red flags about Western Cape Crime Intelligence head Mzwandile Tiyo:

“His failure to acknowledge or even attempt to arrest the suspicion of a rogue unit is questionable and requires the National Commissioner intervention in ensuring Major General Tiyo take accountability for the reputational damage caused by the rogue unit and the divide caused in Western Cape SAPS,” Ipid found.

Double jeopardy and murders

It further said that Western Cape Crime Intelligence failed to assess threats against Kinnear, and that Tiyo should have faced disciplinary action for this.

But it was found Tiyo had already been the subject of an expeditious hearing and was acquitted.

Ipid therefore said recommendations against him would be merely academic as the rule of “double jeopardy” would apply.

The police watchdog, in its final report, said the so-called rogue unit was purportedly created to help investigate a double murder that happened in the Cape Town suburb of Pinelands in 2018 and another killing in the city – the August 2017 assassination of Brian Wainstein, also known as the “Steroid King”, who operated in underworld circles.

Ipid said this policing unit reported to a particular brigadier in Crime Intelligence.

The unit had investigated senior police officers including Kinnear, Lieutenant-General Peter Jacobs, who previously headed the country’s Crime Intelligence before being moved to head the Inspectorate division, and former head of detectives in the Western Cape, Jeremy Vearey, who was controversially fired in May last year.

“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.

Deception and destructive relationships

Former Western Cape police commissioner Khombinkosi Jula had also told Ipid “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”.

Ipid found that Crime Intelligence in the Western Cape had “little to no relationship with other policing units”.

It had a “destructive relationship” with the Anti-Gang Unit and individuals including Jacobs and Vearey.

Daily Maverick previously reported that in an affidavit relating to a Labour Court matter, Jacobs said Kinnear had not trusted certain police and Crime Intelligence officers.

“The basis of his mistrust,” Jacobs had said, “was that he had written an extensive report about the existence of a rogue unit, and the allegations therein included that charges were being falsified against him and other officers, evidence was being tampered with, and investigations were being deliberately compromised.

“However, nothing had been done about this rogue unit. It continued to exist, with impunity.” DM




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