The procedure to appoint a new Western Cape police commissioner will begin from scratch, police have confirmed, angering Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz.
News24 has seen a letter from the office of SAPS national commissioner General Khehla Sitole dated October 28.
Headed “withdrawal of a post at the level of senior management”, the communique reads that the vacancy for provincial commissioner in the Western Cape at the level of Lieutenant General originally advertised in August, would be withdrawn for readvertisement.
National police spokesperson Vish Naidoo confirmed on Monday that the post had been withdrawn for readvertisement.
“The withdrawal and readvertisement of posts in the SAPS is not something that is uncommon. This has happened before and such withdrawals can be influenced by one or more reasons,” he said.
Naidoo said he was “not at liberty to disclose” these reasons.
Major General Jeremy Vearey, the province’s head of detectives and a favourite to take over as Western Cape police commissioner after the transfer of Khombinkosi Jula to KwaZulu-Natal, had lodged an official complaint with Sitole after he failed to make the shortlist for the province’s top job.
According to his letter, he hadn’t made the cut because he had allegedly not included proof of his qualifications, which he disputed.
Vearey is a former Umkhonto we Sizwe operative and ex-bodyguard of president Nelson Mandela.
Fritz said it was alarming that a process, which was followed in line with the Constitution and related legislation, was now being restarted.
“Not only is this a mass violation of the trust in the panel, but it is also a breach of the rule of law. I will urgently be seeking advice on the legality of restarting this process which was done ‘to mitigate the risk for [SAPS], should a dispute emanate from filling the post’.”
Fritz said the Western Cape could not afford to “wait a moment longer” for the appointment.
“The province is plagued by a high crime rate, SAPS is suffering from human and physical resource constraints, there are mass allegations of corruption within SAPS and the ongoing Community Policing Forum elections require strategic leadership from a competent provincial commissioner who placing the safety of the province above all else,” he said.
“It is unclear at this stage when the process will be completed, but once a new provincial commissioner is appointed, it is vital that they prioritise the serious levels of crime and criminality in this province.”
In September, ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs, in his capacity as MP for Athlone, slammed the decision to exclude Vearey from the shortlisted candidates, claiming there was a “third force” influencing the selection criteria.
“The reason for his omission, as I understand it, is that he did not include his qualifications with his application.
“This is utter nonsense. General Vearey has a record second to none as a fearless crime buster, who is highly respected for his integrity and principled attitude towards his profession,” Jacobs said at the time.
Jacobs had called for SAPS national to intervene in the selection process, and called for the selection process “to be held all over again”.