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March 12, 2007 | by  | in Music |
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Stander

Cops are state-sanctioned bullies and thugs. They can gang rape a 16-year-old girl and the court and legal system will protect them. Anybody who has ever been arrested, had their house raided, or been at a party or a protest that the cops have shown up at has some idea about how much unchecked power they have. Stander is the true story about a cop who goes good.


André Stander was a South African police captain in the robbery and homicide division in the late 1970s. Highly decorated and the youngest captain on the force, he had a bright future in the police that enforced apartheid. After doing his police duty and participating in a massacre of protesters in a shantytown, Stander begins to feel that the thug life is not for him. Disillusioned with the system, he starts to rob banks, committing the crimes during his lunch break and then returning as a police officer to lead the investigation. After robbing nearly 30 banks, he is finally caught by his own police unit.

He’s in prison for only a short time before he escapes along with two other inmates, Allan Heyl and Lee McCall, who together form the Stander Gang and go on a bank-robbing spree. Motivated by a loathing of the powerful, their crime wave is more about raging against the injustices in South Africa than the money. The gang’s increasingly bold robberies and anti-authoritarian actions give them a Robin Hood-type hero status among a population dissatisfied with the way things are.

This film is about how the élite and powerful use institutions like the police to keep down the poor and weak. The police’s reward for their loyalty is a little bit of power, a carte blanche to abuse, rape and murder. André Stander robbed banks to tell the police and the powerful to go get fucked. He was a privileged member of society, individually acting out. However, in the film we also see the poorest people in society rebelling in the only way they can: collective mass action. In the end, that is what brought down apartheid and it is the only weapon that the powerless have against the powerful, whether it be racist governments or rapist cops.

BRONWEN HUGHES

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