Murdered suspect’s signature suggests company ‘linked to 28s gang’ won defence contract
Daily Maverick previously reported that a company with suspected ties to the 28s gang was building houses for the Western Cape government. Now a murdered man’s signature on a national department document suggests an interlinked company secured a government contract in the defence sector.
A chilling web involving assassinations, police investigations, businesses linked to 28s gang suspects and government tenders is growing.
It extends from construction sites in Cape Town to state offices.
Among those who got caught in this web was Ernest McLaughlin who was murdered in the Cape Town suburb of Belhar on 2 March.
At the time he was shot, he was charged with several others in a case stemming from 2014, involving allegations that police officers at the SAPS’s Central Firearm Registry created fraudulent firearm licences for individuals including alleged 28s gang boss Ralph Stanfield and his wife, Nicole Johnson.
In that case, a charge sheet stated: “The 28 gang is a criminal organisation whose members and associates engaged in acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, assault, theft, possession of stolen goods, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, malicious damage to property, witness intimidation and drug trafficking.”
Kept in custody
While facing charges in the fraudulent firearm licence matter, at the end of September Stanfield and Johnson were arrested in connection with another case, in which they, with three co-accused, face charges including fraud and car theft.
Stanfield also faces a count of attempted murder.
Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘I want to empty a gun in his head’ – chilling affidavit about alleged 28s gang boss Ralph Stanfield’s ‘plans’
He and Johnson have pleaded not guilty.
They were recently denied bail in the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court and are in state custody.
The fraudulent firearm licence case is set to resume in December, and they are expected back in the dock for the more recent charges in February 2024.
A police investigator in the latest matter alleged in an affidavit that McLaughlin had worked for Stanfield.
Court cases aside, suspicions have surfaced about how far the 28s gang’s influence reaches into government offices.
In March, the month that McLaughlin was murdered, Malusi Booi was fired from the post of mayoral committee member for human settlements after his City of Cape Town office was raided during a fraud and corruption investigation.
Stanfield’s name surfaced in that investigation, which dealt with whether Booi had accepted cash gratifications from underworld figures.
Read more in Daily Maverick: SAPS investigating allegations Cape Town mayco member Malusi Booi ‘took cash from gangsters’
Booi has not been criminally charged.
At the end of October, seven months after his office was raided, he resigned as a councillor, saying he wanted to clear his name and get on with his life.
Meanwhile, also in March, Daily Maverick reported that Glomix House Brokers was doing business with the Western Cape’s Department of Human Settlements.
Concerns about Glomix building houses for the government in Cape Town first surfaced in 2019.
Johnson runs that company, while Stanfield appears to have resigned from it more than a decade ago.
Despite previous concerns, Glomix was appointed to build 204 houses in a project set to conclude in 2024.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Company previously flagged over ‘28s gang’ suspicions still building houses for Western Cape government
This meant the provincial government was working with a company whose head — Johnson — was facing criminal charges linked to allegedly corrupt police officers and fraudulent gun licences.
Following her September arrest, Johnson faces more charges.
While it is not necessarily against the law to do business with crime suspects, these matters raise questions about who exactly is benefiting from government tenders.
Murders that have played out this year add a sinister undertone to the issue.
Murdered man’s signature
Daily Maverick can reveal that another company of which Johnson was previously a director, Yibaninati, also bid for government tenders — and had some success.
It appears that Johnson, based on a Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) document, resigned as a director of Yibaninati in 2019.
This is where McLaughlin fits in.
In November 2021, Yibaninati, along with Glomix and a third company, Amadoda Okwakha General Construction, bid for a Housing Development Agency tender — all three companies appear to have links to McLaughlin.
According to CIPC documents, McLaughlin was the director of Amadoda Construction.
The Housing Development Agency tender related to “the construction of infrastructure and top structure service to assist The Housing Development Agency with construction work in various human settlements projects located within various provinces in South Africa for a period of three years.”
It was not immediately clear who that tender was awarded to.
Two years before that, Yibaninati bid for another tender.
A Department of Water and Sanitation meeting attendance register, headed “Compulsory briefing session” and dated 16 April 2019, showed among those to fill in the form was one E McLaughlin — presumably Ernest McLaughlin.
The briefing was about “the supply and delivery of concrete additives for the raising of Clanwilliam Dam for 48 months”.
Contact number connection
Under “company name” on the attendance register, alongside “E McLaughlin”, was written “Yibaninati Pty (Ltd)” and McLaughlin appeared to have signed the register.
The cellphone number written on the register for Yibaninati was the same number provided for Glomix, by a Glomix representative at another “compulsory briefing session” that the Department of Water and Sanitation had held the day before on the same Clanwilliam Dam issue.
Daily Maverick ascertained this when comparing attendance registers for the two briefing sessions.
Earlier this year when Daily Maverick sent a WhatsApp message to the cellphone number, an apparently automated response said: “Thank you for contacting the number for Nicole Johnson! She will get back to you within 24 hours. For urgent response please send an email. Kind regards.”
Thermal camera tender
It appears that Yibaninati was not awarded the water and sanitation tender.
The company previously surfaced in a government tender bulletin from November 2017.
That document showed that the Department of Defence and Military Veterans awarded a tender, relating to a thermal imaging camera and the Simon’s Town procurement service centre in the Western Cape, to Yibaninati (Pty) Ltd.
The tender amounted to R636,000.
Another tender document showed that possibly five thermal imaging cameras were to be delivered to the Naval Stores Depot in Wingfield, in the Cape Town suburb of Goodwood.
Several other claims about companies and associates allegedly linked to Stanfield have recently surfaced.
The Sunday Times last week reported: “In [February 2023, in] a brazen bid to take control of lucrative building contracts, alleged associates of notorious Cape Town gang boss Ralph Stanfield allegedly threatened top City of Cape Town officials in their offices, warning them to hand over contracts.”
February 2023 was when City of Cape Town official Wendy Kloppers was gunned down in the Cape Town suburb of Delft, at the Symphony Way Housing Project building site.
There were suspicions she had been killed in a case of mistaken identity.
Her murder fits into a matrix of construction mafia crimes in which thugs target contractors, sometimes demanding “protection fees” or wanting to hijack work already awarded to other companies.
The Sunday Times article further alleged: “Two senior City of Cape Town officials, who asked not to be named for safety reasons, said Glomix and 15 other companies with links to Stanfield had managed to infiltrate the provincial and local government through both corruption and deception.”
After their September arrests, when Stanfield and Johnson unsuccessfully applied for bail in the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court, an affidavit from the investigating officer in the matter, Lieutenant-Colonel Christiaan van Renen, was read out.
It referenced McLaughlin who, based on what Daily Maverick has ascertained, appeared to be a link between the companies Yibaninati, Glomix and Amadoda Construction.
Van Renen’s affidavit alleged that in December 2022 a witness, in the case Stanfield and Johnson were recently arrested for, had heard Stanfield tell McLaughlin: “Ek wil hê julle moet [a complainant] vang en na my toe bring; ek wil ’n 16-shooter leeg skiet in die kop.” (I want you to catch him and bring him to me; I want to empty a 16-shooter in his head.)
A “16-shooter” is a reference to a 9mm handgun that can fire 16 rounds.
McLaughlin was fatally shot about three months after that on 2 March.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Spate of shootings in Cape Town linked to political, gang and construction mafia elements
Eleven days later, on 13 March, a cousin of Stanfield’s, Simon Stanfield, was murdered in a shooting in Delft, the same area where Kloppers had been killed the previous month.
There have been other shootings.
More recently, on 4 November, another cousin of Stanfield’s, Noor Stanfield Stephanus (or simply Noor Stephanus), was killed in Valhalla Park, which is coincidentally where Glomix was meant to be building houses as per the deal with the Western Cape government.
The Firm accusations
A Western Cape High Court judgment from 2020 relating to a gang case also referred to Valhalla Park.
It alleged: “The [28s] gang has a number of leaders, including the Stanfield family, who control the 28s in the Valhalla Park area.”
The judgment alleged that Stanfield was the leader of The Firm, a gang conglomerate with a heavy 28s membership.
Read more in Daily Maverick: The Firm: Gang with ‘deep drug roots’ surfaces in 28s accused Ralph Stanfield’s case
In the case for which Stanfield and Johnson are in custody and to which they have pleaded not guilty, Stanfield was also accused of heading The Firm.
Stanfield’s uncle Colin Stanfield was believed to have been the leader of The Firm before his death from cancer in 2004.
Stephanus, murdered on 4 November, was Colin Stanfield’s son. DM