Allan Heyl, the last surviving member of the notorious bank-robbing Stander Gang, has died.
Heyl died on Friday at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
Heyl’s best friend Pieter Möller told News24 that Heyl had changed his way of life after being released on parole.
Möller said their friendship started soon after Heyl was released from jail in 2005.
“We met while he was delivering a motivational speech at the Free State Cheetahs Rugby Union.
“He was a changed man. He did many motivational speeches in the country. He was a big Cheetahs fan.
“He was lone and single and didn’t have a child. We traveled a lot together ,doing motivational speeches,” said Möller.
“He was highly intelligent, soft spoken, an introvert and an interesting person to be with. He told beautiful stories of how he survived and overcome his past. He touched many lives.
“He addressed universities and warned students not to do the same thing, and to make the right choices. I will miss him very much. We had a special relationship together. He served his sentence almost. He was alone and suffered a lot, including financially,” Möller said.
Heyl met his accomplices Andre Stander and Lee McCall in 1977, while they were in prison together. Heyl had been sentenced in 1977 for an earlier string of bank robberies.
Stander and McCall escaped from prison in August 1983. Heyl broke out in October of that same year.
The three then began a crime spree, which ended in late January 1984 when McCall was killed in a shootout with police. Stander, who had fled to the US, also died in a shootout with police there in mid-February 1984.
Heyl, who had traveled to the Greek island of Hydra shortly before McCall’s fatal encounter with police, then travelled to England, where he committed further robberies.
These led to his arrest and, in 1985, he was tried in the Winchester Crown Court and sentenced to nine years in a British prison.
At the end of his British sentence, he was extradited to South Africa, and re-imprisoned on charges pertaining to the Stander Gang robberies.
Heyl served a 25-year sentence in Krugersdorp Prison before being granted parole.