Net seems to be closing in on alleged 28s gang ‘boss’ Ralph Stanfield after his arrest in Constantia

Net seems to be closing in on alleged 28s gang ‘boss’ Ralph Stanfield after his arrest in Constantia
Ralph Stanfield and his wife, Nicole Johnson, leave a Cape Town court on 16 September 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images/Die Burger/Jaco Marais)

His name crops up in a murky mix of everything from extortion to assault to robbery to murdered lawyers. 

A constricting web of organised crime and interlinked suspicions is stretching from Cape Town’s gang hot spots into upmarket suburbs and the city centre’s business hub, and grazing against political offices.

Among the names that keep surfacing via accusations in this arena is that of suspected 28s gang boss Ralph Stanfield.

About a week ago Stanfield and his wife, Nicole Johnson, were arrested in Constantia on charges including motor vehicle theft, assault, robbery and fraud.

Stanfield also faces a charge of illegal firearm possession.

He and Johnson appeared in the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court on 2 October along with two other accused, Denver Booysen and Johannes Abrahams. The four of them, who were kept in custody, are expected back in court on 9 October.

Stanfield and Johnson have no previous convictions. Stanfield does, however, have an extensive background linked to crime accusations. The State has previously pointed to him as being a leader of the notorious 28s gang.

A Western Cape High Court judgment dated 15 September 2020 said that detective Charl Kinnear had identified Stanfield as a gang boss.

That judgment stated: “[Kinnear] is familiar with the gangsterism in the [Cape Town suburb of Bishop Lavis] area and testified that the predominant ruling gang is the 28s under the leadership of Ralph Stanfield.”

Kinnear was assassinated outside his Bishop Lavis home just three days after the judgment was handed down.

Grew up in poverty

Stanfield is the nephew of the late Colin Stanfield, the leader of the gang conglomerate the Firm, which has a 28s following.

In a March 2016 affidavit relating to police action taken against Stanfield that year in Mitchells Plain, he said he “grew up in an impoverished environment”, and his mother, a school cleaner and curtain maker, had raised him.

“The nature of police brutality against me and my family is not something that I am a stranger to,” he said.

Stanfield said he was a property developer and, with Johnson, ran a car service station. Among the relatives he helped financially, he said, were his mother and his brother, Kyle.

Net closes in on Colin Stanfield

Cop collusion suspicions

In 2014, Stanfield’s cousin, Saliem John, was handed life sentences in jail for murder.

That same year Stanfield and Johnson were initially arrested.

They were detained along with his sister, Francisca, and three (now former) Central Firearms Register police officers – Priscilla Mangyani, Billy April and Mary Cartwright.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Unlicensed to kill: police corruption, inefficiencies and outdated systems hobble SA gun control

It was alleged that the police officers had fraudulently created firearm licences for Stanfield, Johnson and others.

The provisional charge sheet in that matter lists 23 accused including Kyle Stanfield, who is presumably the brother Stanfield said he had helped financially. Others listed as accused are Denver Booysen and Johannes Abrahams – the duo who appeared in court with Stanfield and Johnson this week on fresh criminal charges.

Stanfield’s name has also cropped up in other sinister matters. He was wounded in a shooting in Johannesburg in July 2017, a month before international steroid smuggler Brian Wainstein was murdered in his Constantia home.


It previously emerged in court papers that Wainstein suspected that a Cape Town resident, Mark Lifman, had masterminded the shooting of Stanfield.

Lifman is now among those charged in connection with Wainstein’s assassination.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Charges against murdered ‘Steroid King’ reveal a global web of crime cases

The police previously alleged that Lifman and a group of men allied to him had once dominated bouncer operations in Cape Town’s city centre.

It was also alleged that in 2017 a rival group of men allied to suspected organised crime kingpin Nafiz Modack had tried to muscle out the Lifman group.

Accusations in this regard involved establishment owners being forced to pay money for purported security linked to those groups.

In a previous bail application central to Modack, it emerged that Cape Town’s famed Long Street was a focus of the two allegedly rival factions. Long Street merges with Kloof Street, where the Ayepyep Lifestyle Lounge in Cape Town is located.

Ayepyep was closed in August after accusations by the former co-owner, Kagiso Setsetse, that Stanfield and Johnson, its general manager, were trying to dominate it.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Fear, violence and extortion in Cape Town — luxury venue Ayepyep closes amid claims of gangsterism and threats

Among the accusations Setsetse made was that Stanfield was involved in dealing with security at Ayepyep Cape Town.

The venue reopened late last month when a legal settlement resulted in Setsetse selling his one-third of shares in the business.

City of Cape Town

Mounting accusations against Johnson and Stanfield have even affected the City of Cape Town.

In March this year Malusi Booi was fired from the post of mayoral committee member for human settlements after his office was raided as part of a fraud and corruption investigation.

Read more in Daily Maverick: SAPS investigating allegations Cape Town mayco member Malusi Booi ‘took cash from gangsters’

Daily Maverick reported that Stanfield’s name surfaced in that investigation into whether Booi had accepted cash gratifications from underworld figures.

Meanwhile, more shootings bridge gaps between different crimes spreading across Cape Town. On 2 March this year, Ernest McLaughlin was murdered in Belhar – his name appears on the provisional charge sheet along with Stanfield and co in the fraudulent firearms licence case.

On 13 March, a man identified as Stanfield’s cousin, Simon, was murdered in a shooting near Blikkiesdorp in Delft. Simon Stanfield was reportedly one of a group of 10 men arrested over the smashing of luxury cars at a dealership in Milnerton in February 2021. Charges against the group were later dropped.

Lawyer assassinations

There have been other reverberating Cape Town shootings.

On 7 November 2016, attorney Noorudien Hassan was murdered in Lansdowne. In October 2018, advocate Pete Mihalik was assassinated in a shooting in Green Point. Both had represented suspects including Stanfield.

Stanfield was a pallbearer at Mihalik’s funeral. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.

Front page P1 07 October 2023


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