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Rogue, rogue-er, rogue-est — dissecting (real/fake) c...

South Africa

SAPS IN CRISIS ANALYSIS

Rogue, rogue-er, rogue-est — dissecting (real/fake) claims of cops colluding with criminals

From left: Major-General Jeremy Vearey. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach) | Major-General Peter Jacobs. (Photo: Supplied)

There are layers of claims, from national to city level, of crooked law enforcers working against their honest colleagues, especially in South Africa’s gang capital, the Western Cape. This is rattling, more so when viewed through the lens of a cop’s assassination.

A while back, claims started doing the rounds that detective Charl Kinnear was working with underworld suspects and accepted money from them to contribute to repaying his home loan.

Such insinuations were obviously worrying. But they were not isolated.

For years claims have done the rounds that key cop investigators, especially in South Africa’s gang hotspot the Western Cape, are colluding with organised crime suspects.

This casts doubt on the investigators as well as the investigations they conduct.

Character assassins and State Capturers

In the underworld, character assassins often target those going after criminals — they flip situations so that investigators look like crooks.

Of course, some investigators could be corrupt. But when they are honest and the character assassins targeting them are employed within the state, it means their detractors are dissolving national security and contributing to State Capture.

This has undoubtedly been happening.

Figures within the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) Crime Intelligence division have been accused before of plundering secret accounts.

On an even grander scale, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo found the State Security Agency was subverted to protect and bolster former president Jacob Zuma. Fake intelligence dossiers containing bogus information were peddled around in that murky arena.

In Kinnear’s case, several claims were made that he was working with underworld suspects. When analysed, some seemed questionable, in certain cases, too obvious — surely a key investigator with access to state resources would cover their tracks better if acting corruptly?

This is South Africa, though, and anything is possible.

Kinnear’s valid rogue unit complaints 

But it turns out the claims about suspects paying Kinnear’s home loan may have been part of a plot to make him look corrupt.

Kinnear did not trust certain colleagues with links to Crime Intelligence in the Western Cape, and in December 2018 wrote a critical 59-page letter of complaint to his bosses, saying that those individuals were running a rogue operation.

He said those officers were unfairly targeting him and cops who were viewed as aligned with him.

This affected crime fighting.

Kinnear wrote, in part: “I have been at various gang-related crime scenes over the festive season and more specifically two where two children aged four and six were killed.

“It is with great sadness that I can inform you that I am yet to see that assistance of Crime Intelligence in [these] matters BUT instead they have been spending time and taxpayers’ money in attempts to frame [me and other colleagues] for corruption and other wrongdoings that we had no part of.”

Kinnear’s complaints were ignored.

cops kinnear
Charl Kinnear was assassinated on 18 September 2020 outside his home in Bishop Lavis, Cape Town. (Photo: Noor Slamdien)

Nearly two years later, he was assassinated outside his Cape Town home on 18 September 2020.

At the time he was investigating an array of underworld crimes and suspects, including fellow cops.

His assassination means some critical cases focused on police involvement in getting firearms to suspects may collapse.

Daily Maverick recently reported that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) had found that, as Kinnear had already complained back in 2018, a rogue unit indeed existed and “created further animosity among leadership sowing division” in the SAPS in the Western Cape.

The identities of those allegedly part of this so-called rogue unit are known to state authorities and Daily Maverick, but we have chosen not to name them yet because it is not clear what action they will face within the police service or criminally, if any.

Permeating distrust

Kinnear was viewed as aligned to, among other cops, Peter Jacobs, head of the police’s Inspectorate and previously national Crime Intelligence boss, and Jeremy Vearey, who in May 2021 was controversially fired from his position as Western Cape detective head.

In a report dated May 2022, on why Kinnear was not under state protection at the time of his murder, Ipid said there was a “vivid, permeating air of distrust between Lieutenant-Colonel Kinnear and the Western Cape Crime Intelligence”.

rogue cops vearey
Former SAPS Major-General Jeremy Vearey. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

The report added: “This was made clear by the unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against the late Lieutenant-Colonel Kinnear and some senior managers that were perceived to be aligned with him.” These managers were Jacobs and Vearey.

The report said the distrust between Kinnear and Western Cape Crime Intelligence was so deep that it appeared that the latter used state resources to investigate “several cases” against Kinnear and his allies.

‘Spurious’ cases to tarnish credibility

Daily Maverick understands that what was investigated included the matter of Kinnear’s home loan — whether an underworld figure or figures had contributed towards paying it.

However, Ipid found that some cases under investigation against Kinnear and his close colleagues “looked spurious”. 

The Director of Public Prosecutions declined to proceed with these.

“There might have been other reasons that might have influenced the declining of the mentioned cases,” Ipid found, “though it was clearly obvious from the matter where money was alleged to [have] been deposited into [Kinnear’s] home loan account by some underworld figures, he had no prior knowledge of that, therefore he could not have solicited that himself”.

“It looked more like a case of someone wanting to make him look corrupt in order to tarnish his credibility.”

Ipid found that a particular brigadier, identified as a key member of the alleged rogue unit, “had a lot to say about policing in the Western Cape, in particular racism and corruption”, and associated this with Jacobs and Vearey.

“[The brigadier], however, failed to substantiate any wrongdoing against the late Lieutenant-Colonel Kinnear, except the alleged deposits into his home loan account by the underworld figures and that he was close to the aforementioned generals,” the watchdog found.

This implies that the brigadier (who one assumes would be adept at separating nonsense from legitimate information, given his background as a policeman) and certain other Western Cape cops had believed — or were purported to believe — the claims made against Kinnear about his home loan, which Ipid found were likely to be spurious.

 

Underworld suspect favoured a cop

Among those who alleged criminality among cops is a suspect in several cases — Nafiz Modack.

He is accused of being involved in Kinnear’s assassination.

Modack made statements to a police captain, identified by Ipid as another member of the Western Cape Crime Intelligence’s rogue unit, that “contained serious allegations of corruption against” three other cops. These cops, including Kinnear and Vearey, happened to be investigating Modack, who accused them of extortion, bribery and defeating the ends of justice.

cops modack
Alleged underworld boss Nafiz Modack. (Photo: Gallo Images / Jaco Marais)

The police captain to whom Modack made statements had registered these cases.

But anomalies were picked up.

Ipid found Modack “only felt comfortable with” that specific captain investigating his matters.

This captain, Ipid said, “had without any justifiable reason sat with alleged incriminating affidavits deposed by Mr Nafiz Modack against the aforementioned SAPS members for a period exceeding 12 months.”

“It is further alleged that [the captain] had covertly monitored the said members, photographed them allegedly visiting places pointed out by the complainant, as they were allegedly receiving or collecting supposed parcels or envelopes” relating to bribes.

Ipid found it strange that the captain did not effect arrests or investigate the allegations to present a thorough case for potential prosecution.

The captain, Ipid also found, misled some other police officers when signing documents as if he was the complainant, “thus fraudulently misrepresenting the true facts”.

A criminal case docket was subsequently registered against the captain for allegedly defeating the course of justice and for fraud.

City of Cape Town rogue unit claims

Aside from rogue unit claims linked to the SAPS, Daily Maverick recently reported on the City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security Investigations Unit (SSIU), which the justice and police ministries have stated is operating illegally, which the city denies.

Former policeman Reynold Talmakkies, who went on to work in the city’s security arena and who is linked to the SSIU, was arrested in December 2021.

Talmakkies faced charges with two others — Asif Khan, the director of a construction company, and Paul Scheepers, a former Crime Intelligence cop — in connection with tender fraud involving hundreds of millions of rands.

Daily Maverick has also previously reported that Scheepers once did work for the DA and was accused of spying on certain political figures and illegally getting hold of a surveillance device, known as a grabber.

Scheepers’s name also cropped up in the murky world of corruption claims against cops. 

In an affidavit from 2015, he claimed that “three of my informers reported to me on various occasions that a high-ranking officer in the SAPS regularly attends meetings with very well-known drug lords and criminal gang bosses… in the Western Cape”.

“The senior officer, on several occasions, received huge amounts of money for the exchange and delivery of drugs.”

However, questions were subsequently raised about whether the informers might have been coached to make statements to tarnish the reputation of the senior police officer, widely believed in police circles to be Vearey.

Nexus between national, provincial and metro

Above all these dodgy allegations among cops is the country’s national Crime Intelligence unit.

It has been viewed as infiltrated, and in some instances run, by corrupt figures, including convicted kidnapper Richard Mdluli.

The Western Cape’s Crime Intelligence unit operates beneath this mess.

In Kinnear’s December 2018 letter of complaint to his bosses — in which he alleged a rogue unit linked to the province’s Crime Intelligence was working against him and colleagues including Vearey — he referred to Scheepers.

Kinnear claimed his phone calls were illegally tapped after he exposed an issue relating to Scheepers (he did not accuse Scheepers of bugging his calls).

This is where matters seem to converge.

Scheepers was previously attached to Crime Intelligence in the Western Cape. (He retired around 2016.)

His name alone, therefore, drags the City of Cape Town’s security saga, in which he and Talmakkies were arrested, closer to Kinnear’s.

While Ipid’s report into Kinnear does not mention Scheepers, it is important to note that the Western Cape head of Crime Intelligence was Mzwandile Tiyo.

Scheepers and Tiyo, given their work in the police service, probably rubbed shoulders when Scheepers was still a cop.

Questionable Crime Intelligence

In its May report into Kinnear matters, Ipid made scathing findings against Tiyo.

“Major-General Tiyo, as Provincial Head Crime Intelligence Western Cape, must have had knowledge of his member’s investigation of Major-General Vear[e]y, General Jacobs and the late Lieutenant-Colonel Kinnear,” it said.

“His failure to acknowledge or even attempt to arrest the suspicion of a rogue unit is questionable and requires the National Commissioner[’s] intervention in ensuring Major-General Tiyo takes accountability for the reputational damage caused by the rogue unit and the divide caused in Western Cape SAPS.”

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

But Tiyo was acquitted via an expeditious hearing, so the watchdog felt recommendations against him would not amount to anything.

He was effectively off the hook.

Meanwhile, Tiyo ended up as Western Cape Crime Intelligence head after Peter Jacobs was controversially moved from the position.

Jacobs later went on to become head of Crime Intelligence nationally — but was again transferred when things heated up and he was accused (or, as he believed, unfairly targeted) over alleged personal protective equipment procurement irregularities.

For his part, Jacobs accused colleagues of looting the Secret Service Account.

Claims of cop skulduggery therefore seep from a national level into provincial and city level.

None of the above does anything to allay concerns about dodgy intelligence operatives torpedoing crime fighting.

Matters stemming from this arena instead add to fears about cops stabbing colleagues in the back and bolstering criminals.

Arrests linked to the City of Cape Town’s security arena and claims made by and against Kinnear and colleagues, seem to stretch to Western Cape Crime Intelligence in which the police watchdog has identified a rogue unit.

Ipid further found that some police bosses, including at a national level, failed Kinnear, whose assassination means some criminal cops he was investigating may remain in office.

From whichever angle, or tier of government, it is viewed, this overall situation looks like a Pandora’s Box of State Capture. DM

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