When the film Stander begins, the South African apartheid regime has just decided to require the Africaans language in all-Black public schools for half of the curriculum, thereby depriving Black children from learning a language that will give them hope for upward mobility. The result is that a large number of Africans in Soweto protest peacefully. But they are greeted by police, who shoot to kill; the Soweto massacre of 1976 leaves 172 dead, 439 injured, and a country even more deeply divided along racial lines. Andre Stander (played by Thomas Jane), a police captain in charge of robberies in Johannesburg, may be sickened by the callousness of the police who enforce apartheid, but he definitely is revolted by the corruption in the force. After he kills an unarmed boy while on riot duty, he returns there to apologize to the boy’s father, but his retail atonement is no substitute for the wholesale slaughter. Accordingly, he decides to rob banks himself, at first on a lark. Knowing the loopholes in the security system, he becomes successful in a long string of robberies until he is finally caught, found guilty, and imprisoned for a lengthy sentence. While in prison, Stander gains new friends, arranges a breakout, and resumes bank robbing, now with two accomplices, Allan Heyl (played by David Patrick O’Hara) and Lee McCall (played by Dexter Fletcher), who escaped with him. He even manages to fly to the United States, where he is ultimately apprehended at Ft. Lauderdale in 1984 for being a red line runner. The film Stander, directed by Bronwen Hughes, glorifies perhaps the most successful bank robber ever. Nevertheless, according to a title at the end, his estranged wife Bekkie (played in the film by Deborah Unger) ended up committing suicide in 1990. MH

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