Eastern Cape police commissioner Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga told the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council on Tuesday 17 August that discipline was the cornerstone of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and that former Western Cape detective head Major General Jeremy Vearey had undermined it with derogatory Facebook posts
Ntshinga was appointed by national commissioner Khehla Sitole as the designated official in the matter concerning Vearey’s alleged misconduct. A hearing into the matter continued for a second day in Cape Town on Tuesday 17 August.
In May, Ntshinga found that Vearey brought the police service into disrepute with a series of social media posts and said anything short of dismissal would amount to condoning his conduct.
Following Vearey’s dismissal in May, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union lodged a dispute with the sectoral bargaining council in terms of procedural and substantive fairness, constituting the current arbitration process.
On Tuesday, Ntshinga stood by her finding, arguing that Vearey was serving in a senior position at the time of his misconduct and held a position of trust, power, and responsibility.
“The acts committed by the employee had great potential to inspire others, both within and outside of the SAPS. This factor alone brought the potential to collapse levels of discipline in the SAPS if it is left unchecked,” Ntshinga said.
Vearey was found to have brought the SAPS into disrepute following eight Facebook posts he made, described as “derogatory, offensive, insulting and disrespectful” [towards the police] between December 2020 and February 2021.
Ntshinga told the arbitrator that there were internal processes Vearey could have followed when he disagreed with the manner in which he was treated.
What had exacerbated the matter was the damage to the image of the police, she argued. Vearey had also not shown any remorse for his actions.
“He even now still continues, he never stopped, even after he was found guilty he never removed the posts from his Facebook,” said Ntshinga.
In her finding in May she had “heard the response of the employee to the allegations of misconduct against him, and I am of the view that the employee is refusing to take responsibility for his own actions”.
On Monday 16 August, Limpopo deputy police commissioner Major General Jan Scheepers, who was appointed investigating officer in the case, strongly denied allegations from Vearey’s counsel that he was influenced in any way during the investigation.
Advocate Johnny Nortje, representing Vearey, argued that there was an ongoing strategy within the police to get rid of Vearey and his long-time colleague, former crime intelligence boss Peter Jacobs.
Nortje alleged that the strategy was initiated in the same year Vearey and Jacobs were first investigated in 2017. Ntshinga led an investigation into allegations of the duo leaking information to the media back then and found both not guilty before closing the matter.
Nortje says the strategy against Vearey and Jacobs was initiated as a result of an investigation into police officers who supplied weapons to gangsters in the Western Cape.
In 2016, both were transferred while still involved in the investigation. Both successfully challenged their transfers in the Cape Town labour court.
Ntshinga dismissed these allegations, saying she did not know anything about a strategy against Vearey or Jacobs.
One controversial post from February reprised a News24 article about Peter Jacobs going to court to challenge charges against him and was captioned “Moer hulle! Fuck them!”
In his evidence at the bargaining council, Vearey said his original phrase “Moer hulle!” was wrongly translated. He said “Moer hulle” in Afrikaaps – an Afrikaans dialect from the Cape – means “go for them”.
Vearey will be cross-examined on Wednesday 18 August by advocate Omphemetse Mooki SC representing the police.