Thursday, 10 April 2014



Colonist, Volume LI, Issue 12663, 7 October 1909, Page 4

'The Australian Star states -

'It seems that a man who was being escorted to South Africa on the Waratah on a charge of murder alleged to have been committed at Johannesburg threatened that his escorts would never land him alive at the Cape for his trial.'

'He is said to have made the remark with determination that if he saw no other chance of escaping his trial he would set fire to the ship (Waratah).  This was regarded by the police at the time as mere bluff, but the threat has grown into significance in view of the cable that the steamer Harlow on arrival at Manila reported that when in the vicinity of Durban on July 27th she saw a steamer on fire.'

This could be the missing link explaining why the Waratah was on fire and had come about, heading back to Durban. The following reports are detailed and suggest that a murderer, J McLaughlin / McLoughlin, escorted by Detective Mynot and Constable J. De Beer, was on board the Waratah when she disappeared. These names, to my knowledge, do not appear among the 211 names of those lost with the Waratah. They might not have been listed for the simple reason the three men were neither passengers (officially) nor crew, or.......


Brisbane, August 17.

'J. Mclaughlin, -who was arrested in
Queensland some months ago on a charge
of murder alleged to have been committed
in South Africa, was aboard the missing
steamer Waratah.'

'He was. under the escort of Detective Mynot
and Constable J De Beer, of the Johannesburg police.'

The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931)  Previous issue Thursday 8 July 1909


'By the Blue Anchor Line steamer Waratah, 
which sailed from Port Adelaide to
South Africa on Wednesday, a criminal
with a bad record has left the Commonwealth.'

'He is being taken from Brisbane
to Johannesburg by two officers of the
Transvaal police force.' 

'The charge against him is murder, 
alleged to have been committed 
in January, 1895.' 

'The accused, whose name is J. McLoughlin, was, during
the steamer's stay at Port Adelaide,
lodged in the Adelaide Gaol.' 

'He is a one-armed man, aged 47 years, 
and is described as one of the most desperate
characters who ever came to Australia.'

'He was arrested on the present charge
rather dramatically on April 16 on board
the Government steamer Otter, in More-
ton Bay, immediately after he had served
a long sentence for burglary in Northern

'His arrest on the capital charge was due 
to the Brisbane detectives, and reflects credit on them.' 

'McLoughlin, it appears, was arrested in Mackay on a charge 
of burglary, and was sentenced to three years' imprisonment.' 

'In due course his photograph was sent to the
head department in Brisbane. There, one
of the detectives was struck with his resemblance 
to a description which had been
published some time back in a New Zealand 
"Police Gazette." 

'Copies of the paper were hunted up, 
and the photograph and the description were carefully

'As a result a telegram was
sent to the Transvaal, and in due course
information was received from there which
led to McLoughlin's rearrest on board the

'He was brought before the Brisbane court 
and charged with the murder
of Albert George Stevenson and Hadje
Joseph Mustaffa, and after several remands
was extradited in the custody of the two
Transvaal police officials, one of whom
identified McLoughlin.'

'McLoughlin's crime is described as one
of the most sensational tragedies which
occurred on the Rand in the days of the

'George Stevenson was known
variously as Stevo, Georgy, Fernie, George
Stephens, Stephenson, and Davidson. He
resided at the corner of Bezuidenhout and
Commissioner streets Johannesburg.' 

'Previous to 1895 it is alleged that he had been
involved in the robbery of a safe from
the Pretoria railway station, in company
with McLoughlin and Thomas Howard.'

'Immediately after the robbery the trio
left Pretoria by train together for
Johannesburg. The authorities obtained
information concerning them and telegraphed 
to the guard of the train, who, to secure the men, 
fastened up the carriage in 
which they were sitting.' 

'McLoughlin. however, whilst the train was
in motion, notwithstanding that he was
handicapped by having only one arm,
jumped out of one of the carriage windows
and escaped.'  

'Stevenson also jumped from the train 
farther along the line, but was recaptured. 
Subsequently he turned State evidence, 
and his testimony against Howard in the safe-breaking case 
was instrumental in securing for the latter five
years' imprisonment with hard labour.' 

'Efforts to find  McLoughlin proved futile.
It was surmised that he escaped to Rhodesia.' 

'A few months later, however, he
was again seen in Johannesburg, and it
was reported to the police that he had
sworn he would shoot Stevenson for having 
given evidence against Howard.' 

'Before he could be apprehended he had
carried out his purpose. One Saturday
morning in January, 1895, he accosted a
woman who was living in the same house
as Stevenson and told her of his intention.'

'At dusk McLoughlin entered the premises
and shot his victim before he could reach
his own weapon to defend himself. He
fired also at the woman, but missed her.'

'McLoughlin. it is alleged, then left the
house and walked down the street. The
two revolver reports were heard in the
street, and a hue-and-cry was raised.' 

'McLoughlin took to his heels. A man tried
to stop him. McLoughlin fired at him
and missed him. Then a young Malay,
Hadje Mustaffa, stepped forward as if to
stop him. and McLoughlin shot him dead.'

'The murderer, having a straight run, managed to 
elude his pursuers.' 

'Then followed an unsuccessful search, lasting
months. As the country at that period
was in a disturbed state - it was about the
time of the Jamieson raid - the task of
tracking him was rendered difficult.' 

'It is now known that he lost no time in leaving
South Africa. He found his way to
New Zealand. and was not long there before 
he was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment 
for having house-breaking implements in his possession.' 

'From New Zealand he came to the Commonwealth,
where he continued his criminal career.'

'When taken to the Adelaide Gaol during
the steamer Waratah's stay at Port Adelaide
he remarked to one of his custodians,'

"I know this place. I spent a month
here once."

'McLoughlin. it is said, lost his arm in a
successful attempt to escape from Potchefstroom 
Gaol, South Africa. He made the attempt in company 
with a fellow prisoner who was shot dead by a warder.'

'McLoughlin ran away with a bullet wound
in his right arm, which eventually had
to be amputated.'

convicts - 1909

The Origins of Organised Crime in Frontier Johannesburg and the Response of the Kruger State, 1886-1892

One evening in January 1895, in a room behind a pub in downtown Johannesburg, a thirty-seven year old Mancunian-Irishman, John McLoughlin, executed a police informer - a young Englishman by the name of George Stevenson who hailed from Staffordshire, England. While effecting his escape, McLoughlin shot dead a young ‘coloured’ man, recently returned from the Hajj in Mecca, by the name of Mustafa Carr. Once clear of the town centre, McLoughlin, with the help of several members of his highly successful safe-cracking gang, staged a final safe-robbery at one of the nearby mines which yielded gold worth several thousands of pounds. McLoughlin then made his way to Lourenco Marques where he boarded a ship for parts of the Indian Ocean world which were already well known to him from his earlier travels as, first a sailor and, some time later, a soldier. As a fugitive, he worked his way through huge swathes of India, New Zealand and Australia. In 1909, as he was released from prison in Brisbane, he was arrested by an off-duty policeman who recognised him as a man wanted on a charge of murder in South Africa and subsequently extradited. His trial, was an extraordinary event, insofar as the prosecution managed, after the elapse of nearly fourteen years, to reassemble almost every witness to the two murders in downtown Johannesburg in 1895. McLoughlin was convicted and hurriedly sentenced to death and executed in 1910 – just months before earlier legal dispensations were about to be superseded by the new Union of South Africa.
McLoughlin and his escorts must have disembarked at Durban.


Mole said...

The two detectives and their prisoner are recorded in the Natal Immigration Dept list of Waratah passengers who disembarked at Durban.


Thank you Mole. This is substantiated by the subsequent trial and conviction of McLoughlin.