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Top cops probed for kidnap, torture

Claims of defeating the ends of justice over man's murder

03 March 2019 - 00:04 By ARON HYMAN
Mario Abrahams in blue. Bradley Hess in red. Two of Major General Vearey's alleged victims. Both of them were members of the Wonder Boys at the time and were allegedly tortured by police under the command of Vearey.
Mario Abrahams in blue. Bradley Hess in red. Two of Major General Vearey's alleged victims. Both of them were members of the Wonder Boys at the time and were allegedly tortured by police under the command of Vearey.
Image: Supplied

The Western Cape's head of detectives and another senior policeman are under investigation for kidnapping and torture.

Maj Gen Jeremy Vearey and Brig Cass Goolam are also being investigated by counterintelligence officers for defeating the ends of justice.

They are said to have tried to frame two men for the murder of a neighbourhood watch member in 2009.

Numerous police sources have confirmed the investigation, but national spokesperson Brig Vish Naidoo would only say: "There are many cases that are being reviewed as part of a national intervention in the Western Cape, but I am not able to confirm which cases. We do not investigate cases through the media."

Affidavits sworn after Mervin Jacobs was shot dead while attempting to thwart a Mitchells Plain drug dealer relate how police under the command of Vearey and Goolam allegedly kidnapped 40 men in the following six days.

One was allegedly tortured and told to confess to the murder. Others were arrested, allegedly tortured on a sports field in Tafelsig, then released due to lack of evidence.

The now-retired investigating officer in the murder case, former inspector Anthony Lindt, told the Sunday Times that Vearey - then the Mitchells Plain police commander - "interfered from the start to the end".

Six people targeted in the alleged round-up by Vearey and Goolam, then Vearey's deputy and now the Mitchells Plain station commander, opened cases of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The director of public prosecutions refused to prosecute but the complaints have now resurfaced as part of a wider probe of alleged police corruption.

Jacobs was one of three neighbourhood watch members who lit nightly bonfires outside a house in Huguenot Avenue where a drug dealer linked to the 28s gang intended to set up shop.

Just after midnight on October 10 2009, three men in a white car opened fire, killing Jacobs. Omar Hassan was hit but survived and the third member was unhurt.

"The information I got from the scene was that it was the 28s because the 28s wanted to take over that area," Lindt told the Sunday Times.

Maj Gen Jeremy Vearey is being investigated for defeating the ends of justice.
Maj Gen Jeremy Vearey is being investigated for defeating the ends of justice.
Image: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Lerato Maduna

Before he could investigate further, Vearey, Goolam and another then-inspector, Charl Kinnear, arrested 21 men thought to be linked to the local Wonder Kids gang. Lindt said he was told to interview them.

In the absence of evidence, they were released, but policemen under Vearey's command brought some of them back a few hours later with a new batch of men, said Lindt.

One of them was Bradley Hess, who was allegedly tortured and told to confess to the murder. "Vearey's task team guys ... they take me into the road, they tie my feet," Hess told the Sunday Times this week.

"[Vearey] has a little wooden stick he always carries under his arm, [and] he hits me under my feet. He called it 'falaka' [caning the soles of the feet]. He said he was going to give me 'falaka' and he tied me to a lamp pole."

Mario Abrahams, then 21, said he and 12 other men were taken to Swartklip sports field by Vearey's men and beaten up.

Lindt said: "These arrests happened again and again. Every time, Vearey came and asked how far is the investigation, and we said: 'Not there yet, we are still collecting information.' And then he would say 'Yes, but it's not the 28s, it's the Wonder Kids' and told me the killers were Hess and Abrahams."

I feared that these people were going to kill me
Leslie Jones

Vearey's team arrested the two men and put them in an identity parade. But their purported witness, Leslie Jones, told the Sunday Times he had also been intimidated. He said Kinnear kidnapped him, took him into the bushes at Macassar beach, drew his firearm and showed him photographs of Hess and Abrahams.

"What I understood was that they were expecting me to say it was these two people," he said. "They ask me how far I can swim. I feared that these people were going to kill me.

"Then the man takes out his gun, but he doesn't point it at me. He takes it out. Then I go onto my knees and I pray: 'Please, I don't know about anything.' I beg them."

Jones pointed out Hess and Abrahams as the killers but after the ID parade Lindt noticed he was nervous and questioned him. "He came out with the whole story," said the retired detective, adding that Jones broke down crying.

Hess and Abrahams appeared at Mitchells Plain magistrate's court charged with murder and Vearey and Kinnear were in court. Lindt said a court orderly told him his statement reflecting Jones's claims of intimidation had been removed from the docket by the two policemen.

"I had a copy on my PC, which I printed and gave to the prosecutor," he said.

"The court adjourned [and] we went to the prosecutor's office. Vearey came in there and said: 'You're not the investigating officer any more, you give the docket to Kinnear now.' "

In February 2010, the Hawks took over the murder docket and arrested the two 28s members Lindt had suspected. The men were found not guilty after a trial at Mitchells Plain regional court.

The assault cases lodged by Vearey and Goolam's alleged victims were investigated by former Maj Gen JJ Brand, now the Western Cape police ombud, and Lt Col Roger Naude, who now works alongside Kinnear in the anti-gang unit.

Brand told the Sunday Times the dockets were sent to the director of public prosecutions, who declined to prosecute.

"I don't have access to the police systems to see the reasons for the withdrawal and I also can't, in terms of my current portfolio, go back and check that," said Brand.

Abrahams said he had been left scarred by the events of 2009.

"Nowadays when a detective van pulls up near my house I feel like running," he said.

"I don't trust the police . because of the way they hit me and the way they treated us at the police station for a thing we didn't do."

Vearey refused to speak to the Sunday Times and did not respond to questions sent via WhatsApp. Goolam, Kinnear and Naude referred questions to police spokespersons.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

Oct 10 2009: Mervin Jacobs is shot in Huguenot Avenue, Tafelsig.

Oct 10-16: 40 Tafelsig men are rounded up and taken to police holding cells.

Oct 16: Six of the men lay assault complaints with the police.

Oct 19: Inspector Charl Kinnear allegedly kidnaps Leslie Jones and forces him to make a statement implicating Bradley Hess and Mario Abrahams.

Oct 25: Jones points out Hess and Abrahams at an ID parade, then tells investigating officer Inspector Anthony Lindt that he was forced to make a statement and fears the police.

Oct 27: Lindt includes Jones’s statement in the murder docket.

Oct 28: The state withdraws its case against Hess and Abrahams and Maj Gen Jeremy Vearey puts Kinnear in charge of the investigation.

Feb 10 2010: Hawks arrest Ashraf Ryklief and Alrich Alexander for Jacobs’s murder after Alexander confesses. The men are found not guilty because of discrepancies in the original investigation, including Jones’s contradictory statements and the mass arrests. Ryklief is later jailed for murder with 28s boss George “Geweld” Thomas.

Jan 15 2019: Counter- intelligence officers investigating police corruption open a case of torture, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice against Vearey and Brig Cass Goolam.


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