Rashied Staggie: former gang leader, father of four, motivational speaker and cleaner

13 December 2019 - 13:24
By timeslive
Former Hard Livings gang leader Rashied Staggie.
Image: Terry Shean 05/12/2005 © Sunday Times Former Hard Livings gang leader Rashied Staggie.

“To murder someone doesn’t mean you’ve solved the problem nor silenced him.” This graffiti, written on the wall of a Salt River shop by Hard Livings gang members after Rashaad Staggie was lynched two decades ago, is equally apt for his twin, Rashied, killed in the same street on Friday.

Brig Novela Potelwa, without naming anyone, said in a statement that SAPS forensic experts were combing the scene of a shooting in London Road, Salt River, where a 58-year-old man had been shot and seriously wounded on Friday morning. He died on arrival at a nearby hospital.

“Information at the disposal of the police indicates that the deceased was sitting in his vehicle when two unknown suspects emerged, fired several shots at him and fled on foot.

" ... Police have reinforced deployment in and around the Salt River area.”

The brothers, co-leaders of the Hard Livings, gained notoriety in the 1990s after a documentary about their lives, Cape of Fear, was aired.

Rashaad was shot and set alight in 1996 by a mob led by People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad). The image of the gang leader staggering down London Road while burning was viewed around the world. The vigilante movement had been formed the year before as a Muslim community revolt after continual gang wars and deaths on the Cape Flats.

In 1999, Rashied — father of three daughters and a son, husband to Rashieda — publicly renounced gangsterism. He said he had become a born-again Christian.

In 2003 he was sentenced to 15 years for kidnapping and rape, and the following year he was sentenced to 15 years for stealing firearms from a police armoury. The sentences ran concurrently.

He has been free since September 2013 when he was paroled after spending 11 years behind bars for ordering the rape of a teenage girl who had agreed to be a police witness.

That same month, his son, Abdullah Taliep Boonzaaier, alias Dullah Staggie, was in another Cape court, being described by the state as “the leader of the Hard Livings gang in Manenberg”. A drug case was not proven against him.

To get day parole, authorities told Rashied Staggie his movements would be monitored by an electronic tracking device and he had to find a job. Reformed gangster and pastor Ivan Waldeck offered him one as a cleaner at Ukonwaba Investments.

Shortly after his release, Staggie reportedly joined the Patriotic Alliance, the party started by ex-convict Gayton McKenzie and his former jail mate and businessman Kenny Kunene.

In 2016, police pounced on Staggie, a Kempton Park businessman and two others in their luxury cars near Cape Town's Canal Walk shopping centre. They were found in possession of 23 bottles of Johnnie Walker Green Label whisky worth about R20,000 and Cuban cigars. Police initially said the whisky was part of a batch worth more than R10m stolen from a depot. The case was provisionally withdrawn soon thereafter.

Staggie claimed at the time of this arrest that he earned a R5,000 monthly salary as a motivational speaker.

A film about the Staggie twins called Hard Livings has been directed by their nephew, Jason. Ahead of its release, he wrote: “I was 12 years old when I witnessed my uncle Rashaad Staggie's death on TV. I was 13 when the vigilante group Pagad decided to shoot at and petrol-bomb my house. I was 14 when my father (Solomon) was convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Needless to say, my life has been affected by gangsterism. I've seen its destruction at a very, very personal level.”

Hard Livings is not a film glamourising gangsters; it's a film showing the immense pitfalls one encounters if such a life is chosen ... ”