Former axed head of Western Cape detectives, Major General Jeremy Vearey has given discreet insight into the operations of organised crime syndicates and has conceded that policing and politics should not mix.
Vearey was guest speaker at the Cape Town Press Club this week where he spoke about his book, “Into Dark Water”.
Vearey shared his experiences as a former MK soldier, being a bodyguard for the late President Nelson Mandela and joining the police.
Vearey said he had stood firm as a senior police officer, never allowing politics to influence or corrupt him.
He detailed how organised crime syndicates controlled the Western Cape and how he believed senior officers danced to the tune of politicians.
He was questioned by Twanji Kalula, of the Cape Town Press Club on various topics raised in his latest book on corruption, organised crime and politics and under resourcing of policing.
Vearey was dismissed by the former national police commissioner, Khehla Sithole, last year after a disciplinary process pertaining to posts on Facebook.
“I am not the kind of person you will approach, and I think it is the kind of thing throughout my career that got me into trouble. No matter who the politicians are, whether it was DA or ANC, I absolutely refused to allow them to exceed their powers (or) their influence over me.
“That is where we find ourselves today; where a police commissioner will feel comfortable sitting at a caucus, with a party and giving a perspective. It doesn't matter who they do it for, whether they do it for the DA or ANC, they could find it comfortable to go there and allow himself to be used for party political positioning.”
Vearey said another challenge was policing tapping into organised crime syndicates which they were not prepared for.
They were at one stage infiltrated while carrying out an investigation by the leader of the 28s, the late Colin Stanfield: “Our first big case was Colin Stanfield, who was living in Rondebosch.
“We had to put together a team to get to him. I said ‘I want no one from Cape Town; I will be the only one from Cape Town. Find me someone from the deepest remote parts of the Northern Cape, somewhere in Lusikisiki’. So they gave me a team of new people.
“We had a young Afrikaner boy, fresh from the farm. We wrapped him up from college, we prepared him with intelligence, detective work.
“Within three weeks of being in Cape Town, something happened to him which we possibly couldn’t have been prepared for. He was in a nightclub and met a beautiful woman and fell in love.
“He set up house with her and one day he discovered he had R35 000 in his bank account. The biggest mistake he made was that he didn't report it to us. He used the money to build on at his house and then Colin Stanfield’s people contacted him.
“They noticed he was only halfway with his house and that he was out of money and said that they could put in the rest (of the money) for him.
“He spent a further three weeks with them and told them everything about a case docket.
“I am talking about who the witnesses are, what evidence we had, where we were tracking Colin’s accounts, the whole case.
“The type of syndicates we faced, were the kind when where you go to work one morning when you open your boot there is R100 000 in it.”
Vearey didn't shy away from speaking about the dark past of Beaufort West mayor, Gayton Mckenzie.
He said as a police officer he still viewed him as a gang member.
“Some of them (gangsters) are beginning to think of themselves politically. I remember the Hard Livings wanted to avenge themselves as a civic organisation…
“Some went to form political parties, but I still see him as a 26 gang ‘Major’. That is the thing; as a cop, you always see things through that cynical way we look at the world.”
Last week, Weekend Argus revealed that the South African Communist Party had submitted a complaint against Mckenzie, that he had misrepresented and undermined the municipality.
Mckenzie at the time rejected the claims.
Kalula asked Vearey about his dismissal after he was charged with 14 counts of insubordination.
“They say they want you to discuss freely in an open environment. Never do, because of the consequences of what happened to me,” he said.