Cape Town - Security was tight as a crowd of protesters gathered at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning ahead of the appearance of alleged 28s gang kingpin Ralph Stanfield.
Stanfield, nephew of Colin Stanfield, the deceased leader of gang The Firm, was due to appear for a bail application.
Outside the court , around a dozen of Stanfield’s supporters gathered with placards reading “Release Stanfield”, “Stanfield is not a flight risk”, and “Veary is feeding the media garbage”.
Major-General Jeremy Veary, and the police’s Operation Combat, which he heads up, is credited with Stanfield’s arrest on charges relating to an illegal gun licensing syndicate which allegedly operated in cahoots with police officers. Stanfield, along with his girlfriend and sister, were arrested on Thursday. The other two accused were released on bail on Friday.
The arrests came shortly after the arrest of three Johannesburg police officers for their alleged involvement.
Stanfield’s supporters outside the court on Monday accused journalist of spreading “lies” about Stanfield. Messages on their posters identified Stanfield as a “community leader” and a legitimate businessman.
Shortly after 10am another busload of supporters arrived.
Stanfield’s first appearance, in the Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court on Friday, was postponed after the building had to be evacuated following a bomb threat.
The court appearance was moved to the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court later that day, where a cameraman received death threats .
On Monday morning, court orderlies asked media to “use their discretion” so as to avoid aggravating the crowd and causing “an incident”.
At a press conference in Mitchells Plain on Friday, Veary explained that the gun licensing syndicate uncovered by Operation Combat could issue licences to illegitimate gun owners within days, although the process usually takes four to six weeks.
Many were being issued for top-of-the range handguns and assault rifles.
“It was important that we acted to bring an immediate end to the supply pipeline of these guns. More charges against the accused may follow,” Vearey said.