Suspected underworld boss accuses would-be top cop of asking for bribes

Alleged mobster says Jeremy Vearey is guilty of extorting money

13 October 2019 - 00:02 By ARON HYMAN
Nafiz Modack with his bodyguards outside court in April during his extortion trial.
Nafiz Modack with his bodyguards outside court in April during his extortion trial.
Image: Esa Alexander

The Western Cape’s head of detectives and would-be police commissioner, Maj-Gen Jeremy Vearey, has been accused by suspected underworld boss Nafiz Modack of soliciting bribes.

Modack complained to the police in April that he was being extorted by Vearey and officers under his command.

His affidavits, signed on April 10 under a case number issued at Parow police station in Cape Town, provide context to an audio recording of conversations believed to involve Vearey, Modack and an alleged go-between, Mohamedaly Hanware.

The conversation included references to packets of “biltong” (allegedly R10,000 in cash) and “olive trees” and “roses” (allegedly firearms).

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila told the Sunday Times the investigation of Modack’s allegations was being handled by the police anti-corruption unit. The director for public prosecutions in the Western Cape sent the docket to the unit for further investigation on September 11, he said.

Vearey responded to questions from the Sunday Times by denying the allegations against him. “What you allege is false and defamatory and will be dealt with as such with this letter [the Sunday Times questions] as reference as well as with what is published by you,” he said.

He rejected an offer to listen to the recording and demanded that it be sent to him for “forensic analysis”.

Vearey and Lincoln: Apology and clarification

On 13 October 2019, in this story titled 'Suspected underworld boss accuses would-be top cop of asking for bribes', we reported on a police complaint lodged by Nafiz Modack against Major General Jeremy Vearey, in which Modack accused Vearey of soliciting bribes.

The NPA at the time confirmed that the allegations were being investigated by the police anti-corruption unit.

Our story also referred to an audio recording of a conversation purportedly between Mohamedaly Hanware, Modack’s ‘go-between’, and Vearey, in which the person alleged to be Vearey, appeared to solicit a bribe.

A transcript of the audio recording was published together with the story. Vearey at the time denied that it was him speaking on the recording and Hanware failed to respond to questions.

It subsequently appeared that our information was incorrect, in that the voice on the recording is not that of Maj-Gen Vearey. We retract any suggestion that the recording features Maj-Gen Vearey’s voice and apologise to him for any embarrassment that may have resulted.  

We also referred to Major General Andre Lincoln’s 2018 court victory against the minister of police for malicious prosecution.

The judgment was said to have ‘exonerated Lincoln of corruption related to his relationship with Italian Mafia boss Vito Palazzolo’.

Lincoln was never formally charged with corruption in relation to his relationship with Palazzolo and the statement may therefore have been confusing.

What we intended to convey, was that during Lincoln’s criminal trial some witnesses suggested that Lincoln’s relationship with Palazzolo was improper and collusive, but Lincoln’s court victory in his malicious prosecution matter effectively dismissed those suggestions as meritless.

We apologise for any confusion that may have ensued. 

(The delay in running the apology was on account of discussions between the parties.)

Modack said he did not give the Sunday Times permission to use any recording on which his voice could be heard. Hanware did not respond to questions. Information on the investigation has emerged after police minister Bheki Cele intervened in the process of appointing a new Western Cape police commissioner.

On September 20, Vearey wrote to national commissioner Gen Kehla Sithole saying he (Vearey) had been left off the shortlist because he had allegedly not provided proof of his qualifications. Cele has now asked Sithole to review the shortlisting.

But a Sunday Times source close to the selection process said Vearey’s application for the provincial commissioner’s job had been discounted because he did not meet the minimum requirements, which include an NQF level 6 certificate in policing, public administration or business administration; “top secret” security clearance; three years’ senior management experience; and SA citizenship.

“Gen Sithole was happy with the process. SAPS is confident that the process was done correctly,” said the source. “Vearey is excluded not because he didn’t attach his qualifications, it’s because he simply doesn’t meet the minimum requirements.”

The recorded conversations allegedly involving Modack, Vearey and Hanware happened after a fatal shooting by alleged gang boss Colin Booysen’s bodyguard in Belhar on Friday September 27, 2018, according to one of Modack’s affidavits.

Modack, Booysen’s business partner, drove to the scene and was arrested and briefly detained at Ravensmead police station.

When he and his bodyguards were released, their confiscated firearms were not returned.

“I went to [Hanware] to contact General Vearey and he did, and General Vearey want(ed) R40,000 to hand the firearms back. During this conversation Vearey said that he had done a lot for me and that I should put more meat on the table,” reads Modack’s affidavit.

He said he was reporting the matter to the police because he knew his life was in danger, and “General Vearey and his gang are extorting money from me”. Vearey has blamed previous corruption allegations on a DA plot, and he told Sithole he had established that the DA was aware of his exclusion from the shortlist.

His complaint became public through former Western Cape ANC secretary Faiez Jacobs, who suggested a “third force intervention”.

He said: “I believe that a hidden hand was involved. I would not be surprised if this invisible hand is a DA-friendly one because that party has been campaigning maliciously to stop Gen Vearey from becoming our province’s most senior police officer.

”A Western Cape ANC insider said Vearey, a former uMkhonto weSizwe member, still had allies from the liberation struggle."

These are relationships that were forged in the trenches. The one element of it is loyalty to one another, seeing one another deployed to different parts of government … These are old cliques,” said the source, who asked not to be named.

“It’s loyalty, really, that Faiez is calling for … They are a clique of coloured stalwarts.” Vearey and his ANC comrades Peter Jacobs — now national head of crime intelligence — and Andre Lincoln, head of the anti-gang unit, have been controversial figures for several years.

Vearey and Jacobs mounted successful legal challenges against their demotions under former provincial commissioner Lt-Gen Khombinkosi Jula. Police are appealing against a Cape Town high court judgment that found he was maliciously prosecuted on several counts. The judgment also, in effect, exonerated Lincoln of previous suggestions of corruption relating to his relationship with Italian Mafia boss Vito Palazzolo.

Police spokesperson Brig Vish Naidoo said the process of selecting a new provincial commissioner was classified. “Anyone with concerns about the said process is welcome to resort to internal avenues to have such concerns addressed. The SAPS management will not entertain such via the media.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been amended to clarify the status of Maj-Gen Andre Lincoln's court battles.


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