Three former police officers, who were based at the Central Firearm Registry in Pretoria, are suspected of destroying documents relating to firearms and focusing on alleged 28s gang boss Ralph Stanfield, his wife and 18 associates, in a case which forms part of a national guns-to-gangs investigation.
The charge sheet exposes serious allegations of criminality within the police and details acts which stretched from Gauteng to the Western Cape, including how officers allegedly worked with a group of suspects involved in the 28s gang, which is known for carrying out murders, assaults and intimidating witnesses in court cases.
Some of the allegations include that details, which indicate that some of the accused had gone for firearm competency training, were entered into documents when they had actually never been for training.
The charge sheet also alleges that, between May and June 2014, the three ex-police officers accused in the case – Billy April, Priscilla Manganye and Mary-Gail Cartwright – had been involved in the destroying, or the ensuring of the disappearance, of documents of Stanfield and his associates. The documents relate to competency and applications received at the Central Firearm Registry in Pretoria.
Stanfield was wounded in a drive-by shooting in Johannesburg in July 2017, in an incident suspected to have been linked to underworld developments
Years earlier, he was embroiled in the firearm saga.
In June 2014 Stanfield and his wife Nicole, who both reside in Newlands in Cape Town, as well as his sister Francesca Stanfield, were arrested in the city and, at roughly the same time, the Central Firearm Registry was raided.
April, Manganye, and Cartwright were then arrested.
The charges against these accused were provisionally withdrawn in October 2016.
However, it emerged earlier this month that the charges have since been reinstated, more have been added and more accused also now form part of the massive case, involving 109 charges.
Stanfield, his wife, his sister, the three former police officers and 17 other associates of his, including some relatives, appeared in a court in Khayelitsha last week for this case.
The 17 associates are from suburbs including Mitchells Plain, Valhalla Park and Delft, which are areas of which parts have experienced ongoing gang violence.
The charge sheet detailed how, between 2013 and 2014, alleged crimes were committed within the police and between the three officers and suspected gangsters.
A section of it said: “The accused and others known and unknown to the State were members and associates of the 28[s] gang.”
Some of the accused were not members of the gang but participated in activities associated with the 28s.
Murder, intimidation, drug trafficking
The charge sheet said the gang was an informally-structured criminal organisation and its members and associates were involved in crimes, including murder, assault, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, the intimidation of witnesses and drug trafficking.
Hand signals used by members of the gang, as well as tattoos, made them identifiable as 28s.
“The gang managed the procurement, transfer, use, concealment, and disposal of firearms and dangerous weapons to protect gang-related territory,” the charge sheet said.
It said gang members earned money and financed their activities via funds obtained through the illegal trafficking of drugs, as well as the possession and distribution of heroin, tik, dagga and mandrax.
The charge sheet alleged that Stanfield, his wife, his sister and their associates, before and including the period from December 2013 to June 2014, participated in gang activities and this involved fraudulently getting hold of firearm licences, firearms and ammunition.
April, who had the rank of warrant officer, had worked in Gauteng during 2013 and 2014 at the Central Firearm Registry in Pretoria, where he had provided support functions relating to firearm competency applications and new firearm licences, and covering only the provinces of the Eastern Cape and Free State.
Cartwright was an administrative clerk at the firearm registry during the same period and performed similar duties to April, but for the South Gauteng region.
Manganye worked as an administrative clerk during the same period as her two former colleagues, answering calls about firearms, liquor and second-hand goods applications, at the firearm registry.
All the other accused had been based in the Western Cape during 2013 and 2014.
Stanfield, according to the charge sheet, had applied for competency and firearm licences on March 28, 2000, March 1, 2002, May 27, 2002 and April 13, 2006, but these applications were refused by the Central Firearm Registry as well as by the Mitchells Plain police in Cape Town.
His wife had applied for a firearm licence and competency certificate at the Table View police station on July 28, 2010 for a handgun and the firearm registry approved this on June 9, 2011, for a .40 Smith and Wesson pistol.
Francesca Stanfield also applied, via the Mitchells Plain police, for a firearm licence on October 9, 2006, but this was refused by the firearm registry officers.
The charge sheet said that Stanfield, his wife, his sister and 17 associates, had later applied for competency certificates at the Olifantsfontein police station in Midrand, Gauteng.
While five firearm licences were approved for Stanfield, four for Nicole and two for his sister, the rest of those who applied were not issued with competency certificates or firearm licences.
However, the charge sheet said their competency certificates were allegedly fraudulent as the accused had not been at the Olifantsfontein police station to complete application forms and Manganye had actually captured their applications with the help of the designated firearm officer at the station.
Stanfield, Nicole and his sister were alleged to have in some way, either conspired with the three ex-police officers, or gave, or agreed to, pay them to fraudulently obtain firearm licences.
It was also alleged that April, before or between December 2013 and January 2014 in Benoni and Pretoria, gave, or agreed to provide R1 500 or other benefits to an accredited firearm instructor, who was authorised to issue proficiency certificates for Stanfield, his wife and sister.
During January 2014, either at or near the Central Firearm Registry in Pretoria and at Olifantsfontein, Stanfield, his wife, his sister and the three former police officers, also allegedly intended to defraud the commander of the firearm registry in that they were accused of handing over proficiency certificates issued by the accredited firearm instructor.
It was made to look as if these had been lawfully issued to them after they had completed the necessary practical and theoretical training.
However, it was alleged in the charge sheet that they had known the representations in these were false and they had never had any training at a firearm training school.
The charge sheet also alleged that Stanfield, two of the ex-police officers and his associates had in April 2014 supplied misleading details about his associates receiving proficiency training at the Lyttelton Firearms Training Centre where they were issued with training certificates.
Claims were also made about what firearms and ammunition Stanfield and his wife had with them.
‘Illegal’ rifle, pistol and ammunition
The charge sheet said that on May 7, 2014, Stanfield unlawfully had with him a rifle, Glock pistol, as well as ammunition including .45 hollow point rounds, without having the necessary documentation to legally carry these.
Between June 25, 2014 and March 2015, in areas including Bishop Lavis in Cape Town, as well as Johannesburg, Stanfield unlawfully had firearms including a Remington rifle and three semi-automatic pistols.
Nicole was also accused, in the charge sheet, of having had a pistol, semi-automatic pistol and rifle on her between February 2014 and June 25, 2014, in areas including or near Table View, Bishop Lavis and Pretoria.
She also allegedly had ammunition, including .17 hollow point rounds, at the Atlantic Beach Golf Estate on June 25, 2014, and ammunition including 1 042 Cyclone Remington rounds and 138 9mm Browning rounds were discovered at the Shell garage on the corner of John Ramsey Avenue and Bishop Lavis Drive in Bishop Lavis.
This firearm licences case links to Project Impi, a national gun smuggling investigation launched in December 2013 by police officers Major General Jeremy Vearey and Lieutenant General Peter Jacobs
It included looking into the import and export of illegal firearms, and whether weapons were being stockpiled by right-wing groups to be used against the state.
But the investigation was affected in June 2016 when Vearey, who was deputy provincial commissioner for detective services, was suddenly shifted to a position he had previously filled – commander of the Cape Town cluster of police stations.
Jacobs, who headed the province’s crime intelligence unit, was appointed Wynberg cluster commander.
The two approached the Cape Town Labour Court challenging their redeployments, which they believed derailed Project Impi.
Jacobs has subsequently been appointed as head of police’s crime intelligence nationally, while Vearey has returned as deputy provincial commissioner for detective services.
Project Impi had led to the arrest of Chris Prinsloo, an ex-police colonel now serving a jail sentence.
Prinsloo previously said he had sold at least 2 000 firearms, meant to be destroyed by police, to Rondebosch businessman Irshaad Laher, who then allegedly sold these to gangsters.
Vereeniging arms dealer Alan Raves was also arrested as part of Project Impi and he and Laher are expected back in the Western Cape High Court on June 8, when pre-trial proceedings are expected to resume.
The Project Impi investigation established that at least 261 children were murdered or wounded, between 2010 and 2016, with guns smuggled from within the police to gangsters.
About 1 066 murders were also believed to have been carried out with the firearms, of which about 1 200 were never accounted for.
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