By firing one of its top minds, the SAPS will only regress further
Instead of expelling Jeremy Vearey, the police force should engage with him on the matters he has raised
The dismissal of Maj-Gen Jeremy Vearey, purportedly for bringing the SAPS into disrepute on social media, raises critical questions about the nature of the police in a democratic SA, the rights of public servants to express themselves and leadership and strategy within the SAPS. I wish to explore the latter, fundamental, issue in the context of a police service struggling with its own identity, an inability to deliver the safety and security to which the public is entitled and the critical imperative of transformation.
On the one hand, we have the issue of how the SAPS handles social commentary from within its ranks, even if it is expressed in what some might perceive as harsh or uncomplimentary terms. The fundamental decision taken with regard to the post-apartheid police force was to demilitarise it and establish in its place a service-orientated organisation free of the militarised use of force, the rejection of a nonsensical culture of military discipline and disposing of the untouchable big-man syndrome that characterised its leaders at all levels.
By all accounts, and contrary to the repeated declarations of ANC leaders, ministers of police and police commissioners, this effort has failed dismally, largely because its implementation has been sabotaged by those embedded in the ruling ANC and apartheid-era apparatchiks within SAPS who have attached themselves to ANC politicians attracted to the idea of militarisation, force and the personality cult. The effect of this, as far as the Vearey case is concerned, is an intolerance for criticism and unconventional commentary, and a thin-skinned fear of defamation by people whose poor performance is, by its nature, a defamation of the republic and its citizenry...