Former Hard Livings gang boss Rashied Staggie and his three co-accuseds and are free men – for now.
In the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court yesterday, it emerged the state would provisionally withdraw charges against Staggie, his co-accused Jayraj Pillay, 56, his son Michaheel Mahendra Pillay, 19, as well as 45-year-old Joao de Gouveia.
Their lawyers had written to the Director for Public Prosecutions to make representations on the charges against the men.
The group faced charges of possession of stolen property after 23 bottles of Johnnie Walker Green worth R20 000, several boxes of expensive Cuban cigars and British cigarettes were found in three cars being driven by the them at a parking lot in Canal Walk in April this year.
The National Prosecuting Authority’s Eric Ntabazalila says: “The charges against the accused were provisionally withdrawn pending further investigation.”
It’s still unclear how long it will take for investigations into the matter to be completed and whether prosecutors will want to reinstate charges once that is done.
Ntabazalila says that decision will depend on the outcome of the further investigations.
Staggie’s long-time friend Pastor Ivan Waldeck says the former gang boss is very relieved about the charges being provisionally dropped.
“He told me all the time that there was no case against him, there was no evidence and that he did anything wrong or broke the law,” he says.
“Those items were birthday gifts given to him; he did not know how they were acquired.
“It is very disturbing how the police and even the public are quick to prosecute him because of his past.
“I think for him it is a hard thing to deal with, but he has made peace with the fact that people will never forgive him for his past mistakes.
“It is very rare that people who have a regrettable past are allowed to get out of prison after serving their time and be allowed a second chance.
“The good work that he does within the community and the fact that since he was out, there has never been an incident where he was not found where he should be, all of that is forgotten in a rush to paint him as the same person he used to be.”
Staggie works as a motivational speaker, earning R5 000 a month, after a brief stint working as a cleaner at Waldeck’s rehab centre.