Cape drug war heads for the polls

Gustav Thiel

THE war between Cape Town’s drug lords and People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) is heading for the ballot box. Notorious gangster Rashied Staggie has announced that he will contest the 1999 elections, while Pagad is said to be forming a political party for the elections.

Staggie, the twin brother of Rashaad Staggie who was slain by Pagad members last year, is a member of the newly formed party for coloured people, Die Suid-Afrikaan.

The party is an extension of the Community Outreach Forum (Core), which was formed in 1996 by pastor Albern Martins to “provide a haven for reformed gangsters”.

Martins told a meeting in Ladysmith last weekend that “the coloured people of South Africa should take back the country. We are the only ones that are left out and even the blacks have a say in the country now,” he said.

Pagad’s national commander, Aslam Toeffy, told the Mail & Guardian this week that his organisation sees Core and Die Suid- Afrikaan as “institutions which aim to further drug smuggling in the Western Cape”.

He remains “convinced” that Staggie still trades in drugs.

“At this stage we do not want to comment on the new party, but it consists of gangsters like Martins and Staggie who will never mend their ways,” he said.

Martins denied accommodating gangsters, but said “we will fight Pagad because their struggle is a futile one”.

He added that Staggie “will definitely be a member of the new party and he will contest the next elections. Why should there be a problem if ex-gangsters want to become members of Parliament?”

Asked whether he was aware that Staggie has previously admitted to “killing men with my bare hands”, he said: “That is a thing of the past.”

Toeffy said this week that Pagad has no official policy about forming a political party to counter the aims of Die Suid- Afrikaan.

He did say, however, that the organisation “will do everything necessary to stop the gangsterism of Staggie and Martins”.

Cape Town criminologist Don Pinnock says that Pagad aims to contest the 1999 elections and he believes it is currently “forming political alliances with the aim of establishing a political party”.

If this is so, Die Suid-Afrikaan and Pagad could be on the same ballot paper in 1999.

Until then, Pagad and the gangsters remain committed to a struggle that frequently results in violence. In the latest outbreak, the house of ex-Pagad leader Nadthmie Edries in Cape Town’s Primrose Park was bombed on Tuesday by suspected gangsters.

The attack followed several the previous week by gangsters on the homes of Pagad members. There was also an attack on Staggie’s house in Sea Point.

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