Gunshop owner recalls Stander Gang encounter


satnder19/5

Star

Wrecked: in this 1984 picture, Solly Schuster surveys the damage done to the bedroom of the Stander Gang's hideout in Sixth Avenue, Houghton, after the shootout with the police. Photo: Etienne Rothbart, The Star

By Lee Rondganger

Mike Henn remembers the day the Stander Gang shot his wife, Malene, and robbed his Randburg gun shop as if it were yesterday.

It was November 10 1983, just days after Stander and Lee McCall sprung Allan Heyl from Zonderwater Prison, that the trio stormed Henn's gun shop and made off with 4 000 rounds of ammunition, three 12-bore pump-action shotguns, a .223 Ruger Mini, 14 semi-automatic rifles, a Colt 45 and a CZ 9mm pistol.

While Henn wasn't at the gun shop during the robbery, he vividly remembers the day the gang struck.

"It was a Wednesday and my brother-in-law came to my house in Randburg and said my wife had been shot. I was working from home that day, and when she called me, I did not hear the phone ring," he said.

Henn and his brother-in-law, Danie Visagie, rushed to the gun shop in Hans Strydom Drive, where paramedics were treating his wife.

The Stander Gang had walked into the shop around 3.30pm. Malene was working alone in the shop that day. She was attending to a customer when she saw that one of the three men had a gun.

She went for her own firearm in the shop's safe, but before she could fire, she was shot by McCall. The bullet struck Malene's arm and pierced her lung before exiting through her back. She spent a week at Sandton Clinic.

Malene did not want to comment on Wednesday.

"We often talk about that day and question why she did not shoot, but she says she was not sure whether the gun was real and that she was more concerned about the customers' safety," said Henn.

"I don't believe that they actually wanted to use the weapons they stole, but they wanted everyone to know that they were heavily armed and dangerous," said Henn.

He still owns the Potshot Kolskoot Gun Shop and Academy. On Wednesday he said his family had overcome the trauma the Stander Gang had put them through.

"My wife used to have nightmares about the shooting and she did not sleep well for about three years. We are now over all that and she has closed that chapter in her life," he said.

Asked how he felt about Heyl's release, Henn said: "He must just leave my family, and everybody else for that matter, alone."

lro@star.co.za


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