Top cop Vearey ’should challenge his dismissal’
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Cape Town – Policing experts believe that the head of detectives in the province, Major-General Jeremy Vearey, should challenge his dismissal from SAPS relating to social media posts.
The top Western Cape cop was fired for misconduct in terms of the SAPS disciplinary regulations.
Eastern Cape police commissioner Lieutenant-General Lizwe Ntshinga, who chaired an Expeditious Procedure Meeting, had on May 27 found that Vearey had brought the name of the police into disrepute for eight Facebook posts between December 7, 2020 and February 25, 2021, which in some cases featured pictures of the national commissioner, Khehla Sitole, and links to stories and documents.
The sanction proposed was dismissal and it has been confirmed that Sitole gave him the axe on Friday, May 28.
“In light of the huge media and public interest in the matter of Major-General Jeremy Vearey, the South African Police Service can confirm that a sanction of dismissal imposed on the Major-General was endorsed by the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service on Friday, 28 May 2021,” national police spokesperson Vish Naidoo said in a statement.
Naidoo said some of Vearey’s messages were directed at Sitole and contained words considered derogatory, offensive, insulting and disrespectful.
While Vearey could not be reached for comment yesterday, Police Minister Bheki Cele had been informed about his dismissal, and “there is no further comment”, said the minister’s spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba.
Police union Popcru did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.
While some of those concerned have questioned the way the process was done, others want answers about the motive behind his dismissal.
A policing expert at the African Centre for Security and Intelligence Praxis, Eldred de Klerk, said the “militarised” way in which the matter was handled was problematic.
“There are a number of weaknesses in the decision which I am sure the general and his legal team are set to question and contest.
“What we do know is that the case is decidedly unprecedented in terms of the speed in which it was conducted and finalised, and the manner in which it was finalised - and the level and calibre of officer involved. It's worth looking at the process.
“The ’no comment’ stance the police took was also problematic as it exemplifies its militarised culture and command. When the national development plan 2030 called for demilitarised police I think part of what we look for in a militarised set-up is exactly this.
“One of the questions that needs to be asked is who and what are the checks on this unrivalled authority vested in the institution and its internalised disciplinary procedure - and, in this case, also the national commissioner?” he asked.
Durban policing scholar Professor Monique Marks, who described Vearey as a “shark thinker“, said this was about more than bureaucracy.
“There's been instances in Durban where police have done similar things about people in positions of power, but haven’t been kicked out. People, I would think, were looking for a reason to get rid of Jeremy and this was a good reason in their view.
“It was a long time coming. He has a lot of supporters in NGOs, social justice institutions, he is understanding of complex policing situations, compared to the majority. Police are bureaucratic, not democratic organisations, but there is another side - they will protect their ranks if they want to. But they are not protecting Jeremy. Why is no one protecting Jeremy, because he is very forthright? He has always been a critical voice in the police, never afraid to say things as he feels them.”
Both De Klerk and Marks believed he would challenge the outcome in court.
De Klerk said it made sense that Cele would not comment yet.
“It would be remiss for the minister to comment at this time. The full case docket has to be handed to him for his review, as he might be called upon to review the decision.”
Community activist Colin Arendse said Vearey was still needed in the fight against crime on the Cape Flats.
“The people’s general, Jeremy Vearey, was a target during the onslaught against humanity by the apartheid regime and continues to be a thorn to those remnants of the regime still entrenched in our ‘public service’. It defies logic that police management would spend all this time chasing captured shadows while people on the Cape Flats are held to ransom by gangs and those politicians who facilitate organised crime. Vearey will, and must, defeat these stooges as his work to rid our communities of guns and gangs is incomplete,” he said.