Row after two top Cape cops 'demoted'
Cape Town - Two top Western Cape police officers have effectively been demoted from their senior management posts to cluster commanders.
Major-General Jeremy Vearey, the police’s deputy provincial commissioner for detective services and Major-General Peter Jacobs, the province’s crime intelligence boss, were informed last week they would no longer occupy their current posts and would be moved to Cape Town and Wynberg policing clusters, respectively. The pair, who have worked to “dislodge, disorganise and disrupt” gang activity in the province, must report to their new posts on Monday.
The written instructions, which came from national police headquarters, has had the police rumour mill working overtime last week, with senior police members accusing their bosses of buckling under political pressure.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, several police members claimed the new provincial boss, Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula, “did not want” Vearey serving on his management structure.
“It’s no secret that Vearey has been rubbing several people up the wrong way. Continuously locking horns with the DA-led provincial government has not helped his cause either,” an insider said.
“People are strategically aligning themselves, and it is the fight against crime that will ultimately suffer,” another officer said.
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) is already gearing up to take the matter to court.
Confirming it would be challenging the demotions in court, Popcru provincial secretary, Mncedisi Mbolekwa, said they were taking up the cases on behalf of their members. “They are demoted for no good reason. We view this as unfair labour practice,” Mbolekwa said. He said the union will file a grievance today and plans to fight the employers “all the way to court”.
“We are going to attack the employer. There is already a case involving a correctional services official which set a precedent in the Western Cape High Court.”
Popcru said it was shocking that management did not follow due process.
“Vearey was told in a letter from national head office signed by the deputy police commissioner, informing him that he is being moved from his deputy provincial police post to cluster commander Cape Town,” he added.
Mbolekwa said their members were not consulted, and received no explanation as to what prompted the move.
“An employer does have a right to move you from time to time but, by law, they must give reasons as to why a member is being moved from point A to point B. The members should also have been afforded 21 days, but they were informed last week and must start today. They had to be afforded an opportunity to explain their situations and state their case.”
Popcru added that the move will not just impact on their members, but will also affect crime in the province as Vearey will no longer be heading up the anti-gang unit, Operation Combat.
“Vearey has played an integral part in the fight against organised crime, gangsterism and drugs and weapons smuggling in this province. Operation Combat has made numerous arrests and stopped several syndicates,” he added.
Mbolekwa expressed concern that “their expertise will be lost in the affluent areas where they are now being dumped”. “Obviously there are politics at play here, and we cannot allow politics to come into play in policing matters.”
Jacobs, who was also a former deputy provincial police commissioner, took up the post as the province’s head of crime intelligence in January 2014.
Vearey declined to comment while Jacobs could not be reached.
Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said he had yet to be officially informed of any changes to the senior management structure of the police in the Western Cape. “I trust any changes made by General Jula will be for the purpose of increasing the effectiveness of the police leadership on this province,” he added.
National police spokeswoman Brigadier Mashadi Selepe said the transfer and placement of officers was managed in compliance with the policies of the police.
“Deployment of senior managers and members of the service at all levels is processed with the objective of ensuring service delivery improvement balancing the needs of the organisation and the affected individuals. Other influences and/or pressure from any quarter is not a
consideration. Redeployment of managers and employees cannot be construed as a demotion. These processes remain internal so cannot be canvassed in the public space.”