Senior crime intelligence officers want R15mn from axed top cop Vearey

Crime intelligence head in the Western Cape Major General Mzwandile Tiyo and senior crime intelligence officer Major General Feroz Khan have brought legal charges against dismissed detective head Jeremy Vearey amounting to a combined R15-million.

Vearey received a Western Cape high court summons last Friday from Tiyo and Khan over allegedly defamatory remarks he made earlier this year.

Of the total claims, R10-million relates to comments he made on news channel eNCA on 3 June during an interview days after national police commissioner Khehla Sitole signed off his dismissal.

In the 23-minute video, Vearey, among other arguments, denies bringing the police into disrepute and defends his initial Facebook post which read  “MOER HULLE!” in Afrikaans, which was translated to “FUCK THEM!” in English. In the video, Vearey asserts that Tiyo translated his post and that Khan spread it widely.

The remaining claim of R5-million relates to what Vearey wrote about Tiyo in his recently published book “Into Dark Water: A Police Memoir.” 

Details of the summons against Vearey were aired during Monday’s arbitration hearing challenging Vearey’s dismissal from the police service.

After he was fired, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union lodged a dispute with the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council in terms of procedural and substantive fairness, leading to the current arbitration. The hearing recommenced on Monday after adjourning in late August

Before August’s adjournment, advocate Omphemetse Mooki, the state attorney representing the police, signalled he would draw evidence from the eNCA video.

On Monday, Vearey declined to comment on the video so as not to incriminate himself. His lawyer, John Nortje, also objected to the video, arguing that his client had not been dismissed because of it and, therefore, “the evidence in this video may have been entertaining but it is clearly inadmissible”.

Advocate Imthiaz Sirkhot, acting as arbitrator in the matter, dismissed Nortje’s objection, saying Mooki was fully within his rights to use the video during the cross-examination. 

Both Tiyo and Vearey are former members of the ANC’s underground military structure, Umkhonto weSizwe, which was active during the struggle against apartheid.

Vearey has previously argued before the bargaining council that the origin of the complaint that ultimately led to his dismissal was Tiyo, who he said was the head of a “rogue unit” comprising members of the crime intelligence unit in the Western Cape. 

These claims were dismissed by a state witness, Limpopo deputy police commissioner Major General Jan Scheepers, who was the investigating officer into the matter concerning Vearey’s dismissal. 

Scheepers said the complaint originated from national police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo. 

On Monday, Mooki concluded his cross-examination by saying he would  suggest to the arbitrator that Vearey had “failed his office”.

“As a senior officer within the SAPS [South African Police Service] in the remarks that you made about both the SAPS and the national commissioner, it will be intolerable, notwithstanding your sterling work, for you to remain an officer within the SAPS,” Mooki said.

Vearey disagreed and pointed out that “even the national commissioner himself has a court judgment against him and all his deputies”. He argued that, despite many police members being “on trial for corruption and [having] several allegations against them”, they were still receiving their monthly salary.

The arbitration hearing concluded on Monday and the matter is expected to be finalised by November.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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