Vearey’s axing sparks outrage
Facebook posts ‘brought police service into disrepute’
OUTRAGE has followed the dismissal of the Western Cape’s head of detectives Jeremy Vearey after he was found guilty of misconduct over “disrespectful” posts on social media.
Vearey’s Facebook posts were allegedly aimed at National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole. He was charged with bringing the police service into disrepute with eight posts between December 2020 and February 2021 containing links to media reports.
Most of those referred to disciplinary charges against former crime intelligence boss Peter Jacobs who is in an ongoing battle with Sitole, and recently won a Labour Court interdict halting a disciplinary process related to the killing of former Anti-Gang Unit commander Charl Kinnear.
Police spokesperson Vish Naidoo confirmed that a sanction of dismissal imposed on Vearey was endorsed by Sitole on Friday.
Cape Flats Safety Forum chairperson Abie Isaacs said they have noted with concern Vearey’s dismissal. He said there was always an issue whenever a vacant top police post arose in the Western Cape and they knew Vearey would be the correct person for the job.
“Remember, there is a provincial commissioner post that is vacant in the province, which is not yet filled. We know that Vearey would be the best candidate for that post,” Isaacs said.
“Yes, we understand there is internal process and regulations, but they have denied an individual within their ranks the freedom of speech. As the Cape Flats, we are going to go all out to mobilise the communities to support Vearey," Isaacs said.
Whistle-blower and community activist Colin Arendse said since the some former uMkhonto weSizwe cadres joined the police service they had been targeted by the corrupt Nats and later the DA who replaced them.
“While police management focus on Facebook posts as victims of crime on the Cape Flats are held to ransom by gangs and drug lords, the people’s general Vearey will survive this latest onslaught – just like he has before,” Arendse said.
In 2017, Vearey and Jacobs successfully challenged their transfers from the provincial office, where both were deputy provincial commissioners, to respectively head up the Cape Town and Wynberg police clusters.
Naidoo said Vearey had been subjected to a disciplinary process after social media posts he made of messages and images between late last year and earlier this year and caused the same to be circulated via the social media network.
“Some of the messages were directed at the national commissioner and contained words that were considered derogatory, offensive, insulting and disrespectful to the commissioner, thus bringing the commissioner and the police service into disrepute,” he said.
The ANC in the Western Cape said it was shocked by the decision to fire one of South Africa’s most outstanding crime fighters. “We are angered by General Vearey’s dismissal. He has served our struggle faithfully and also became a police officer hated by criminals in our province. His dismissal appears to be part of a pattern to sideline and fire people’s soldiers who joined SAPS. Clearly there is a crisis in SAPS that requires the urgent attention of the National Minister and the President. “This decision must be reversed,” it said.
SACP provincial secretary Benson Ngqentsu said Vearey’s dismissal had all the hallmarks of an orchestrated, pernicious witch-hunt that had destabilised the police leadership in the province with dire consequences for crime-fighting capacity.
“The use of Vearey’s commentary on social media as a pretext to institute disciplinary action is nothing other than acting in a despotic strongman manner inconsistent with our constitutional values and Bill of Rights,” he said.
DA MPL and community safety standing committee chairperson Reagan Allen said: “We cannot allow any such internal disputes or the police management issues to further impact on the state of crime in the Western Cape.”