AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
AfriForum’s Gerrie Nel takes Charl Kinnear case, points to SAPS ‘cover-ups’ and failures
No cops have been held accountable for effectively failing to prevent detective Charl Kinnear’s assassination in Cape Town in September 2020, despite several reports into their conduct. AfriForum is now representing his widow and pushing for action to be taken against them.
Advocate Gerrie Nel, who heads AfriForum’s private prosecution unit, has written to police bosses, pushing them for answers about what is happening to cops found to have effectively failed to prevent detective Charl Kinnear’s assassination.
He says has also identified situations which suggest cover-ups on the part of the cops.
AfriForum’s private prosecution unit is acting on behalf of Kinnear’s widow Nicolette on a pro bono (free) basis.
She previously, on its advice, lodged a culpable homicide complaint against South African Police Service (SAPS) officers who played a role in withdrawing Kinnear’s security ahead of his murder.
Different reports, no action
On Tuesday 10 October 2023, Nicolette told Daily Maverick she wanted to know why the SAPS had allowed effective internal offences to be carried out that led up to her husband’s killing.
At least four reports — one from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) and three from within SAPS — were prepared in relation to what happened to Kinnear.
Daily Maverick has established these are:
- A final May 2022 Ipid report, based on an investigation into why Kinnear was not under state protection at the time of his murder — it contained recommendations for SAPS. (A preliminary Ipid report wrapped up in October 2021.)
- A 2020 report into Kinnear’s security situation by (now retired) Lieutenant General Moeketsi Sempe.
- A 2020 follow-up report by deputy police commissioner Francinah Vuma (who went on to be suspended);
- A 2023 report compiled by a lieutenant general and partially based on Ipid’s 2022 report. National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola, during a press conference earlier last week, said this report was ready and he was set to be briefed on it.
Nicolette did not understand why, despite those reports, action was yet to be taken against police officers implicated in them for not ensuring Kinnear’s safety.
Kinnear was assassinated outside his Cape Town home in Bishop Lavis on 18 September 2020.
At the time, he was investigating several organised crime cases and various suspects, including fellow police officers.
He should have been under state protection but was not.Several suspects, including alleged organised crime kingpin Nafiz Modack, have been arrested in connection with Kinnear’s assassination.
They are set to go on trial in the Western Cape high court.
However, that trial will not be aimed at holding police officers, who did not carry out duties to ensure Kinnear’s protection, to account.
Consulting with SAPS legal team
Nel, in a letter dated 5 October 2023 to, among others, Masemola and Police Minister Bheki Cele, said it “intends to address the absolute failure of the SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to address those individuals within the SAPS whose conduct enabled the tragic assassination of Kinnear.”
On Tuesday 10 October 2023, Cele’s spokesperson Lirandzu Themba confirmed to Daily Maverick that Nel’s letter had been received.
She declined to comment on it, though, saying this would be done at a later stage.
Responding to a Daily Maverick query on whether Masemola had received Nel’s letter, national police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe told Daily Maverick that Masemola had studied “the report.”
This was the report Masemola referred to during the press conference last week, saying a lieutenant general compiled it and that he was ready to be briefed on it.
Mathe on Tuesday said that the report Masemola had studied was on Ipid’s findings, as well as about “Thulare” — this was reference to an October 2022 judgment by Judge Daniel Thulare who found that evidence in a case suggested the 28s gang had infiltrated policing structures in the Western Cape.
Read more in Daily Maverick: 28s gang ‘capture’ top Western Cape cops, prosecutors’ lives at risk – judge sounds corruption alarm
“General Masemola is currently consulting with the SAPS legal team on aspects relating to the report,” Mathe said.
Meanwhile, Nel’s 5 October letter to cop bosses largely focused on Ipid’s 2022 report.
Police watchdog findings
Ipid’s findings pointed to several cops who failed to carry out their duties to protect Kinnear.
Among its conclusions was that two Hawks officers should be criminally charged for not doing enough when it emerged Kinnear’s cellphone was being tracked ahead of his murder.
Ipid also found a “rogue” style police unit had existed in the Western Cape, which was roughly what Kinnear had complained about to cop bosses roughly a year before he was killed.
Daily Maverick previously reported on Ipid’s preliminary report, as well as its final one — both documents were widely leaked.
However, it emerged the report was subsequently classified as Top Secret, meaning only those with special clearance were allowed to access it.
Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘We were lied to’ – The fiasco of ‘Top Secret’ Ipid report into the assassination of senior cop Charl Kinnear
Nel, in his letter, pointed out that the preliminary Ipid report basically wrapped up in September 2021.
‘Amateurish conduct and cover-up’
“The finalisation and failure of implementation allowed for the resignation and retirement of certain implicated members without any consequence,” he said.
“This reality ‘absolves’ Police Management from taking action against their own. It is so much easier to blame the NPA and courts should criminal prosecution not follow or be unsuccessful.
“Indubitably, such amateurish conduct indicates a desperate scramble, which we suggest is a continued cover-up of police incompetence and conceivably embarrassing police criminality.”
‘No satisfactory progress’
In his letter to police bosses, Nel said Nicolette Kinnear had engaged with SAPS management and submitted testimony to Parliament’s police committee.
“Nonetheless, she has witnessed no satisfactory progress or assuaging explanations regarding Kinnear’s murder and has reached the end of her tether, therefore, our involvement.”
He added: “It is a sad day indeed, yet deplorable that she is expected to accept as inevitable that Police Management is indifferent or unsurprisingly unable to deal with the recommendations of the… Ipid… report.”
Read more in Daily Maverick: Restricted Ipid report on top detective Charl Kinnear’s killing is in a Parliament safe, cop committee told
Nel described the handling of the report as “farcical” saying it “was retrospectively classified, first wrongly and then by the report’s author.”
Like Daily Maverick previously reported, he said that “the retrospective classification happened after the report was widely available in the public domain.”
‘SAPS has done nothing’
Nel said it did not make sense that Masemola needed other reports to act on Ipid’s findings.
“The ineluctable inference is that of a cover-up and delay to ensure that the matter will disappear.”
He had other strong words for the police.
“It defies all belief that the SAPS has done nothing to address or prevent the failures that made the assassination possible.”
Nel was also critical of Cele, saying the police minister made “predictable comments and empty promises” at the Kinnear murder scene back in 2020.
‘Hollow political statements’
In that September 2020 speech, Cele had said: “From the report I have received, this officer has been under threat for some time. He was provided with police protection but that was withdrawn at some point, now I want to know what informed that decision.
“This family deserves to know whether their father was failed and if so, heads must roll.”
Nel, in his 5 October 2023 letter, referenced Cele’s words.
“We reiterate three years later, no heads rolled, no disciplinary steps were instituted, and the Ipid recommendations were ignored,” he said.
“Similarly, in numerous other cases, there have been no consequences for the hollow, politically motivated pronouncements by the Minister of Police.”
Nel said Ipid’s report was used to form the basis of Nicolette Kinnear’s culpable homicide complaint against officers.
(On Monday 9 October 2023 Western Cape police confirmed to Daily Maverick that Ipid was investigating that complaint.)
“Despite the Ipid investigation that uncovered evidence worthy of classifying the [final 2022] Ipid report, there has been no progress in this investigation,” Nel said.
“It cannot be unreasonable to expect meaningful feedback and the date of the first appearance of the arrested accused.”
Nel added that it was unfortunate that Nicolette Kinnear was not being updated about matters, which she also told Daily Maverick.
“The failure to communicate with the widow of one of their own can only be inferred to be an avoidance of accountability by creating a masked cover-up,” he said.
Nel concluded: “We hold a brief to take whatever steps to ensure that police management decides whether to institute disciplinary action.
“A formal process will, however, result in unnecessary legal costs, and we implore police management to inform us if disciplinary action will follow against the identified members.” DM