Notorious Cape crime boss dies

Published Oct 4, 2004


To the police, he was a sinner - a linchpin of the Western Cape drug trade. To the poor of Valhalla Park, he was a saint - a benefactor who provided food and lent a sympathetic ear to their problems.

So the authorities will shed few tears, but many of the least fortunate will be mourning Colin Stanfield, who died on Sunday of lung cancer.

Stanfield, who turned 50 on July 22, died at the Southern Cross Hospital in Wynberg about 7.15am after being admitted on Thursday night.

Family spokesperson Golan Geldenhuys said they had feared the worst on Thursday.

"It looked like we were going to lose him then. The pain in his back and his chest had become unbearable.

"I had something to eat with him on Wednesday and he told me it looked like it would be the last meal we would share together," Geldenhuys said.

Stanfield's lung cancer had been at the centre of his protracted court battle with Correctional Services to go free in his latter days.

In March 2001 he was convicted in the Cape Town Regional Court of tax fraud involving R2-million, but he was released on bail pending the outcome of an appeal.

He lost, and on February 18, 2002, after emotional scenes in Valhalla Park, where hundreds wept openly for "Uncle Colin", he reported to Helderstroom Prison in Villiersdorp to start a six-year sentence.

At the time, a relative said Stanfield had grown up an orphan and had been "brought up on the government's spoon".

Last May, he was diagnosed with cancer in the left lung and was admitted that month as an in-patient at Southern Cross.

His lawyers brought an urgent application asking the Cape High Court to set aside a ruling by the prison's parole board, which had refused to release Stanfield on medical grounds.

Doctors at the time had given him between six and 12 months to live.

In August, 18 months into his sentence, the Cape High Court ordered that he be paroled so that his family could take care of him at their Rondebosch home in Cape Town.

The order placed him under house arrest, except to attend the hospital or go to church.

On Sunday, some of those closest to him paid tribute to Stanfield.

Pastor Albert Martins, described as a "spiritual adviser" to Stanfield, called him "a community leader bar none".

"He had the blame of the government on him. But show me a man who has been through all he has been, all the accusations against him, and God still allows him to die with his family and not behind bars.

"He has kept a community together, despite the allegations against him. We have lost a big man and the sorrow of the community will attest to this. I respect him for what he has done," Martins said.

Community worker Gertrude Square, who represents the United Front Civic Organisation, said Stanfield would always be regarded as one of the most important people in Valhalla Park's history.

"I have known him for the past 16 years. In all that time, he always regarded the Valhalla Park community and their problems as his own. The community was his family, their concerns were his concerns.

"I don't think there is someone in Valhalla Park who can say that he ever turned them away. He was there for us for 24 hours a day," Square said.

It is understood that Stanfield had contributed to nine non-governmental organisations in Valhalla Park.

Self-styled security expert Abduragiem Booth said he had close contact with Stanfield over the past few months.

"He was heavily involved in the communities of Valhalla Park, Nooitgedacht and Matroosfontein and other areas. His death is a deep loss. He was never a gangster and he was never found guilty of dealing in drugs.

"When I last spoke to him, he told me that when he died he wanted his funeral to be a simple affair and that it should be held in Valhalla Park," he said.

Stanfield was one of the crime figures police were desperate to see behind bars.

In a report for the Institute of Security Studies in June 2000, Western Cape gang expert Irvin Kinnes described Stanfield as "one of the biggest drug dealers to emerge in the Western Cape".

"Colin Stanfield's premises were raided by the police and he was arrested in 1996 after two years of painstaking investigations. During the raid, the police found millions of rands in cash and estimated he was worth more than R30-million," the report said.

"The arrest made headlines and the day before he was due to appear in court, the court was burned down."

The arrest eventually led to his conviction for tax fraud.

Kinnes chose not to comment on Sunday.

Stanfield, who leaves his wife, two sons and two daughters, is expected to be buried on Saturday.

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