5 infamous South African citizens

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5 infamous South African citizens

While South Africa are home to many worldwide respectable people, there are a couple of South African citizens who are infamous. While they might have become world renown, not everyone deserve respect though. They therefore fall from grace in spectacular fashion in front of a worldwide audience.

In this article, I will focus on 5 such people. In no particular order:

South African born Andre Stander

Claim to fame: Police Officer turned bank robber.


Andre Stander started out as the son of a South African Police Service Major General Frans Stander. He was to follow in his Father’s footsteps.

Andre was first of all under huge pressure to also become a prominent figure in the South African Police. In 1963 he enrolled at the South African Police Training College in Pretoria. He graduated top of his class and as a result honored as Top Student of 1963.

There was however controversy about his acceptance into the Police Force as he failed his matric (Grade 12).

Andre however went on to join the Kempton Park Criminal Investigation Department after completion of his training. He quickly went up the ranks and therefore became a Captain at just 31 and then the head of the above department.

His love for money above all seem like one of the motivators for turning into a career bank robber.


Andre robbed his first bank in 1977 as a side line to being a Police Officer. He would fly from Johannesburg on his days off, rob a bank and then casually fly back and investigate the bank robbery himself.

He continued with his moonlighting job as a solo bank robber for 3 years. Andre robbed about 30 banks and made an estimated R100 000 (ZAR) to substitute his Police income. According to the staff at the banks he robbed, he was a gentlemen while pointing a gun at them.

Inviting fellow colleague

Andre very much enjoyed his new Lifestyle and couldn’t help but boast about his sideline career to his best friend Car van Deventer. Car worked for the Bureau of State Security. Furthermore, Andre even invited his friend to join him in his adventures.

According to Car van Deventer , Andre admitted to him that the first few times were sheer agony. “But after that he couldn’t stop. Andre began to enjoy himself. He used to watch the faces of his victims and was laughing up his sleeve when he committed his robberies. There was an element of sadistic bullying…”

Cops and Robbers

It was on 4 January 1980 that Andre and his gang were finally arrested and brought to justice.

Andre was as a result and finally found guilty on 15 charges and sent to jail for 17 years. During his trial which drew widespread attention and media coverage, his distraught Father said:

“I forced him to become a policeman against his wishes,” his father admitted after the trial. “He should have left the force years ago.”

The Stander gang

Going to jail didn’t stop Andre’s criminal career. It was in jail that he met Patrick Lee MCCall and Allan Heyl both experienced car thieves and bank robbers. The three of them would become known as The Stander gang.

The three of them made a daring prison escape and for four months they robbed several banks and as a result became infamous celebrities. They became aware of the massive manhunt and price on their heads and decided to buy a yacht and flee the country.


On 27 January 1984 Andre Stander flew to the USA to finalize the purchase of a Yacht. He left behind the two other members of the Stander gang. During a shootout with the South African Police Patrick Mc Call was fatally injured and died on the scene.

Alan Heyll then took his chances and as a result, fled to England.

Alan later served time for armed robbery in England.

He was finally handed over to the South African Police, after he finished his stint in an England jail.

Back in South Africa, Alan finally faced the justice system and founded guilty for his role in the bank robberies.

He received bail in 2015 after serving most of his time and is now a much sought after motivational speaker.

Shot dead

During his stay in America he became very agitated. It was only a matter of time until he overplayed his hand. On 10 February 1984, Stander was approached and apprehended by the Fort Lauderdale policefor the reason that he was driving an unlicensed vehicle.

He did not co-operate with the Police, he tried to grab the Officer’s gun and as a result Andre Stander killed  . He was only 38 years old.


His spectacular fall from grace had many people asked: Why?

Some of his friends and family claimed that he experienced severe trauma during the township unrest in Tembisa in 1976. According to him, he witnessed severe human rights violations due to apartheid. However his former friend Carl van Deventer claims that it is not true.

“I don’t accept that,” he said. . Don’t you think he would have told his best friend about it at some time or other? If it had really happened…”

There are also no record of him playing any role in the unrests.

Andre had trouble with relationships with women, he abandoned his only child after holding him only once.

Chris Swanepoel one of his colleagues said: “You know, we read every day of the brilliant student who was forced on the road to robbery.” How could he be brilliant and still fail matric? Sure he was a captain of the police but was he a brilliant detective? Rubbish, I say!

Cult status

Many people to this day want to believe that Andre was a Hero, betrayed by his Police colleagues. They disregard the facts of his wide spread crime sprees. There are  theories and speculation that someone assisted  Andre Stander in one way or another to flee South Africa.

It is most likely that Andre liked the living on the edge lifestyle with robbing banks, the thrill of playing hide and seek with the Police – a trade he knew very well.

Andre certainly earned his place on this list of infamous South Africans.

His son

His only son Ernie Amos only found out the identity of his father when he was 21 years old. He is a successful Christian music ministry leader and married with children with no interest in criminal activities.

South African Olympian
Oscar Pistorius

Claim to fame: Oscar was an South African Olympic champion when he shot his girlfriend four times. He claimed he thought she was a burglar

Born disabled

Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius was born on 22 November 1986 without fibula bones in his legs. He became a double leg amputee when he was 11 months old for the reason that his legs were amputated just below the knees.

Oscar was born into a hard working privilege Pistorius family. He has a brother Carl and sister Aimee. His family consist out of successful business men and women. Oscar’s Mother died when he was only 15 years old.

Growing up, Oscar was raised the same way as his brother and sister and so became passionate about sports. He tried all sorts of sports until he found his passion in running during rehabilitation from an injury. He met coach Ampie Louw and under his guidance he became a Paralympic medalist.

Oscar overcame several obstacles before he stood on the world stage, medals in his hands.

A South African
star on the world stage

In 2012 he became the first double leg amputee to run in the Olympic games. The 2012 Paralympic games was his most successful. He won gold in the T44 400 meters and the Relay with new world records in both. He also had the honor of carrying the South African flag onto the stadium.

Oscar was hailed a true Hero and a mentor to other people with disabilities especially amputees. He was 26 years old and in top form and noteworthy at the height of his career.

A Valentines day killing

On 14 February 2013 and barely 6 months after his spectacular performance, the world woke up to shocking headlines. Oscar shot to death his girlfriend, the beautiful Mrs Reeva Steenkamp. The world watched in horror as the events unfolded and their Hero as a result, came crashing down.

During the court case that followed, it came to light that Oscar shot Reeva 4 times through a locked toilet door, killing her. His defense was that he thought she was an intruder.

Oscar goes to jail

The very public court case drew worldwide attention and he was found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to 5 years of which he served 10 months. Human and women rights groups were not all happy with his lenient sentence.

The state appealed the shocking sentence until he was finally found guilty of murder and therefore sentenced to 13 years and 5 months in 2015 by the Supreme Court of Appeal. He has to serve at least half of his sentence before he can apply for bail.

The family behind him

His Father Henke Pistorius told The Times UK that Pistorius was leading a Bible study and prayer group at Atteridgeville correctional centre in Pretoria. According to sources within the Prison, he is well integrated and gets along well with fellow inmates as well as prison authorities.

Sister Aimee who works for Investec is currently working in Londen.

The parents of Reeva were thrown into poverty after her death. They came under fire for accepting a monthly amount from the Pistorius family for 6 months after her death.

Neighbors where the shooting happened testified that they heard fighting from Oscar’s apartment, but Oscar denied it, insisting that he thought she was an intruder.

Hendrik Verwoerd

Claim to fame: The so called Father of Apartheid

South African Born in Amsterdam

Hendrik Verwoerd, was born on September 8, 1901 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He immigrated with his family to South Africa when he was three months old. He was a gifted scholar and went to the University of Stellenbosch where he noteworthy became professor of applied psychology in 1927.

Start of Political career

Verwoerd became a prominent figure in the politics in 1937 when he became editor of the new Nationalist daily named, The Transvaler in Johannesburg. When the National Party won the 1948 election, he became a senator.

Hendrik became the minister of native affairs in 1950 where he as a result became involved in apartheid legislation.

The Bantu act

The Bantu Self-Government Act was established in 1959. It provided for the resettlement of blacks in eight separate Homelands/Reservations. Several demonstrations against this Act followed and so on 5 October 1960 a small majority of white voters approved his recommendation to leave the commonwealth in order for South Africa to become a republic on 31 May 1961.

While he called apartheid a system of good neighborliness where races could live next to each other in peace and harmony, certainly not everyone shared his believes.

Assassination attempt

On April 9, 1960 David Pratt, a deranged white farmer from British descent and a vivid opposer of apartheid shot Verwoerd in an assassination attempt at the opening of the Rand show.

He shot Verwoerd twice in the face but failed to kill him. The Government denied that the attack were politically motivated, instead saying that it was an isolated incident. David wasfinally found to be insane and sent to Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital where he committed suicide in 1990.

Assassination succeeded

On 6 September 1966 Hendrik Verwoerd while in parliament when he was fatally stabbed to death by Dimitri Tsafendas a parliamentary messenger. He too was found to be insane and died in Sterkfontein Mental Hospital.

Tsafendas denied being insane and revealed in an interview that he carried out the assassination because of the racial discrimination that also affected his life.

Another South African who became worldwide infamous.

Hansie Cronje

Claim to fame: South African cricket captain banned from everything cricket due to match fixing

A star is born

Wessel Johannes “Hansie” Cronje was born in Bloemfontein on 25 September 1969 into a sporting family. He went to Grey College in Bloemfontein, a prestigious private boy’s school.

Hansie was Head boy of his school in in 1987. His Father Ewie played cricket for the Freestate in the 60’s while his brother Frans also played first-class cricket.

Cricket glory

Cronje made his Test Debut for the South African National cricket team against the West Indies at Bridgetown, Barbados in 1991. He became captain of the South African team in 1994 when he was just 24. This made him the youngest South African Cricket captain in well over a century.

Under Cronje’s captaincy, South Africa won 27 Tests and lost 11. He is the third most successful captain worldwide for matches won.

In April 2000 Indian police made allegations that they had proof of conversations between Hansie Cronje and Sanjay Chawla, (a member of an Indian betting syndicate. )

Match fixing

In June 2000 Cronje appeared in front of Justice EL King at a Commission of Enquiry into cricket match fixing and other related matters.

While he was given a ban for life from cricket, three other South African cricket players namely Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje, and Pieter Strydom, were also implicated.

In June 2000 Cronje was asked to appear in front of Justice EL King at a Commission of Enquiry into cricket match fixing and other related matters.

While he was given a ban for life from cricket, three other South African cricket players namely Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje, and Pieter Strydom, were also implicated.

Hansie as a result became financial manager for an agricultural company based in Johannesburg. He lived in George with his wife Bertha and so Hansie frequently flew between his work in Johannesburg and his home in George.

His death

Hansie was scheduled to fly home from Johannesburg on 1 June 2002. His scheduled flight was grounded due to mechanical issues. He accepted a ride aboard a Hawker Siddeley HS 748 turboprop aircraft. Near George airport, the pilots lost visibility and crashed into the Outeniqua Mountains. Both Hansie and the two pilots died on impact. Hansie was 32 years old.

Suspicions of murder started to go around especially after the death of Pakistan couch Bob Walmer although murder was never proven.

Hansie died shortly after his life ban and so the world will never know if Hansie could have turned his life around.

During the inquiry Hansie admitted to having a love of money which also proved to have been his ultimate downfall.

Bertha the widow of Hansie is now happily married to Jacques du Plessis a financial auditor from George. The have 2 children.

Jonty Rhodes

One of Hansie’s friends and fellow cricket player Jonty Rhodes had the following to say during an interview:

“It was never really about taking money to lose a match or under-performing. Hansie initially took easy money for doing nothing, and as time went on, they (bookies) wanted him to force a particular result. He felt that he had to deliver on their demands, because he had taken their easy money earlier,” he said.

Rhodes was also asked if fans should forget and forgive Cronje

Rhodes replied, “You can’t just forget and forgive the bad things he did easily. At the same time, if you hold it against him for the rest of your life, the only person suffering is you. Obviously, the bad things he did was very hard for all of us to accept. But he was the only cricketer to admit his wrongs; everyone else just denied it.”

Rhodes went on to say that he wished Hansie had time to straighten out his life. “If Hansie was still with us, he could have had a positive role to play in the world of cricket. The ICC or Cricket South Africa could have utilized him as someone who can speak out.

He could say, ‘Hey guys, there are ways to make easy money, but don’t do it, because the consequences are severe.’“But that aeroplane crash robbed Hansie of the chance to redeem himself.”

Jackie Selebi – South African

Claim to fame: South African Police Commissioner found guilty of corruption and send to jail.

Struggle icon

Jackie Selebi was part of the struggle movement and became national commissioner of the South African Police Service in the post apartheid South Africa under then President Thabo Mbeki.

Selebi was born on 7 March 1950 in Johannesburg

Between 1995 and 1998 he served as the South African ambassador and representative to the United Nations

Jackie received a Human Rights Award from the International Service for Human Rights in 1998

He became national commissioner of the South African Police in 2000 until 2009. He was appointed vice-president of Interpol. In 2004 he was appointed as President of Interpol.

In 2008 charges of corruption laid against him which resulted in him resigning from both positions.


He was consequently send to jail on 2 July 2010. During the trial it came to light that he accepted money from Glen Agliotti a convicted drug smuggler.

Former struggle icon and disgraced Jackie Selebi received medical parole in 2012. He died on 23 January 2015 after battling kidney failure.


These former v.i.p South African citizens once had promising careers but through bad decisions and choices they fell from grace. These infamous South Africans have through their bad choices, affected the lives of others. They are therefore etched in South African History forever not as heroes but as infamous South Africans.

You can also read how to start and end your day with success and also Celebrities in their own right and read more about the meaning of infamous


Gang Leader Andre Stander shot dead

• Marsh, R., The Stander Gang, from Famous South African Crimes, [online], Available at www.africacrime-mystery.co.za [Accessed: 21 January 2014]

• Brightview,” Whiter Than White”, [online], Available at: www.brightreview.co.uk, [Accessed on 6 February 2014]

Feeding souls

Hendrik Verwoerd

THE man who killed apartheid

Hendrik Verwoerd

Eugène Ney Terre’Blanche

Former SA Cricket Captain, Hansie Cronje, dies

How Hansie Cronje became most infamous villain in cricket’s fixing scandals

Wessel Johannes “Hansie” Cronje

Rhodes: ‘Air crash robbed Hansie of the chance to redeem himself’

Jackie Selebi

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