ALLAN HEYL - THE LAST SURVIVING MEMBER OF THE
STANDER GANG TO HELP RUSTENBURG ROTARY CLUB WITH A FUND RAISER
Rustenburg residents will have the opportunity to hear Allan Heyl, the last surviving member of the Stander gang of bank robbers. Treat yourself and your staff, friends and family to the most inspiring and memorable talk you are likely to hear. The function will be held on on Friday 7 September 2012 at the Hellenic Hall.
Most countries have criminals or criminal events that capture the public’s imagination, sometimes positively, but usually negatively. Some that come to mind are Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, Ronald Briggs and the Great Train Robbery, Jack the Ripper, and so on. We all have heard of these people and the crimes they perpetrated. In South Africa, it was what the media called the Stander Gang that caused newspaper sales to soar. The public couldn’t get enough information (or speculation) about the gang and its exploits, and even today there are many South Africans who wish that the gang had got away with its daring exploits.
The gang was named after its leader, André Stander, son of a senior officer in the Correctional Services, Major-General Frans Stander. Apparently his success in the police force didn’t meet all his needs, probably both emotional and financial. So he took up robbing banks as a hobby. On his days off from his police job, he would fly to Durban, don a disguise, rent or steal a car at the airport, and go and rob a bank or building society. When he finished he would drive back to the airport, fly back to Johannesburg, and become a policeman again.
As is so often the case, he became overconfident and boasted to one of his close friends about what he was doing. The friend reported the comments, and the police set up surveillance. Sure enough, after flying into Johannesburg from a heist in Durban, he was apprehended with money, disguises, and a firearm in his luggage. He was found guilty on 15 of 28 charges of bank robbery and sentenced to an effective 17 years in a maximum-security prison.
While in prison, Stander met and befriended two other bank robbers, Patrick Lee McCall and Allan Heyl. In August 1983, Stander and McCall, with several other prisoners, were scheduled to meet with a physiotherapist. While in the waiting room, Stander and McCall overpowered their guards and the poor physiotherapist and escaped. About two months later, Stander and McCall returned to the prison and sprung Heyl from the maximum-security facility. Then the fun began.
Over the next three months, what became called the Stander Gang, robbed at will. They raided a gun shop and took an arsenal of weapons. In the two months from mid-November 1983 to mid-January 1984, the gang robbed twenty banks, sometimes four in a day. Each time they robbed a bank, the newspapers splashed their deeds all over the front page, and the public cheered. They saw Stander as a modern day Robin Hood, a gentleman robber – although there is no evidence he did anything charitable with the money.
Stander realized that time was running short and arranged to buy a yacht in Cape Town in which the three could sail to the United States. Stander flew to the States on a false passport to finalize details. The day after he left, apparently based on information offered by some of the escort agency girls, the police surrounded one of the safe houses. After a mighty gun battle, McCall was killed. Heyl, who was elsewhere that evening, then fled the country and went to ground in Greece, on the island of Hydra.
Stander, after some silly dealings with a Mustang got recognised by the dealer who reported it to the Fort Lauderdale police. That same evening they surrounded Sander’s apartment and when he showed up, they confronted him. He tried to wrestle with one of the policemen, whose shotgun went off, fatally wounding Stander
As for Allan Heyl, he left Hydra for England, where he pulled a small heist. Eventually a confidence trickster he had befriended turned him into the police. He was arrested at a house in Surrey. In May 1985, he was sentenced to nine years in prison. When he was released, he was extradited to South Africa where he received an additional sentence from which he was paroled in 2005. And guess what? He is now a motivational speaker!
Rustenburg Rotary Club has invited Allan to share the profound lessons he learned on his incredible journey on a slippery slope of moral deprivation that culminated in him serving more than 27 years in prison both here and in the U.K. Hear firsthand how poor self-image undermines our thought process and how dangerously and easily a cycle of negative thinking can entrap us in a debilitating spiral of moral degeneration. His story is overwhelming one of hope and ultimate redemption.
Tickets are available from the Rotarians. Tables of 10 at R1500 per table or R150 pp. which will include light snacks. A cash bar will be available. Profits from this function will be used to buy wheelchairs, which will be distributed to the community in and around Rustenburg. More than two hundred wheelchairs were handed out in the last eighteen months.
Please contact the following people for tickets and reservations: Gaylen at 082 780 1052 or Elsa at 083 493 5911