MITCHELLS PLAIN’s former head of visible policing says it was he who arrested Helen Zille in August 2007, contrary to claims in her book, Not Without A Fight, that it was Cape Town cluster commander Jeremy Vearey.
Zille was arrested following an anti-drugs march in Lentegeur, Mitchells Plain, after she had gone to the Mitchells Plain police station, where Vearey was station commander, to enquire why one of the marchers, who had knocked on the door of a suspected drug merchant, had been arrested.
Michael Jacobs, Mitchells Plain’s head of visible policing at the time of the march, confirmed to the Cape Times that he had arrested Zille.
Vearey said the only reason he was targeted by Zille was due to his background as a former Umkhonto we Sizwe operative.
“If she continues to spread this (lie), the publisher of her book is continuing a case of criminal defamation against me. They must publish that there has been a misrepresentation of the facts,” said Vearey.
In her book, Zille insisted that Vearey and former Western Cape crime intelligence head Michael Jacobs, also a former MK operative, had taken a political instruction from former community safety MEC Leonard Ramatlakane to arrest her.
Ramatlakane, now an ANC MP in the National Assembly, said he had heard about the allegation contained in Zille’s book but had not yet seen it.
“It's simply a lie, I couldn't have given such an instruction. It's a cheap shot,” said Ramatlakane.
At the time, Zille and the DA, of which she was the leader, were fighting tooth and nail to retain power from a cobbled coalition ahead of the last floor-crossing period a month later.
Ramatlakane demanded that Zille and her publishers withdraw passages in the book which were “defamatory”.
“I'm not closing the door on legal action,” said Ramatlakane.
Penguin Books marketing manager Amanda van Rhyn said the company had no response and aggrieved subjects would have to take it up with Zille.
Zille responded yesterday by saying Vearey admitted he was in charge at the police station when she was arrested, and that he was present at the time.
“To have such a high-ranking policeman take charge of a police station to deal with a legal march on a Sunday is in itself highly unusual.
"I have witnesses, including my lawyer, who was present and who can corroborate my account of the role Vearey played.
“To claim he did not arrest me because he did not actually handcuff me is laughable. I sued for wrongful arrest and was paid out by the SAPS before the matter went to court,” Zille said.