Stanfield, Martins, Gangsters and the Church

25 May

Atlas Hoods: The Gangster Preacher

Atlas Hoods

By Gavin Haynes

dsc00069Pastor Albern Martins

South African preacher Albern Martins bloody loves a good shout. He has the preacher habit of standing two inches from your earhole and booming out long, elliptical speeches that encompass God, forgiveness, repentance, gangsters he has known and loved, Muslim vigilante groups he has known and loathed, and the ongoing plight of The Coloured Man. These are a few of his favourite things.

“Just before Christmas,” he confides, loudly, “the police were worried they were going to start shooting each other around here. Three calls! Three calls from me was all it took and the whole thing went away.”

Back in the 90s, Martins was The Preacher Who Buried Gangsters. If you had a dead gangster on your hands, first thing you’d do (after the violent reprisals) would be to put in a call to Pastor Albern. A Baptist fire-breather of the old school much-loved in the deeply religious climes of the Cape Flats, in Cape Town, Martins created a speciality and milked it. In all, he did over 200 gangster funerals. Once, he did five in the same day. “That was a hjellluva day,” he whispers, at volume. “I was running back and forth, back and forth! Cos everybody wants Pastor Martins.”

Pastor Martins’ funeral client list soon preceded him. Colin Stanfield – leader of The Firm, monarch of the Cape Flats underworld, caught Al Capone-style on tax-evasion charges not long before cannily dropping dead from lung cancer. Jackie Lonte – grizzled kingpin of The Americans – the first guy to bring crack to South Africa. Mongrels boss Bobby Mongrel. Katy-Ann Arendse – one of the only females ever to rise to boardroom level in a major Cape Flats gang, assassinated in her driveway. Ernie “LaPepa” Peters – who was hosed down in his blue BMW. Thankfully, this was just after Martins had successfully converted him to the ways of The Lord.

Colin Stanfield was his piece de resistance.

Thousands lined the streets of Valhalla Park, singing “It’s Colin and God, Colin and God”. A large white banner proclaimed “The court rules. The community overrules”, and as they watched Pastor Martins eulogising him on big-screens, the common people wept for a man they saw as a latter-day Robin Hood. “He would pay their water and electricity bills. No school fees whatsoever – they would bring their problems to him, and he would solve them. Every complaint, every problem, only a word from Colin and everything can be changed. What you need to understand is that Mr Druglord is often taking a lead in his community. He is making it safe: he controls his area. I say, if you want to bring peace to the Cape Flats, you need to talk to maybe only five men. But those five men – they can make life hell in the Western Cape for you if they choose.”

Pastor Martins was recently shot and killed as he, his wife and son waited outside a court for their  hearing in an ongoing trial for perlemoen (abelone) and drug racketeering involving money laundering.

Jeanihess Blog South Africa


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