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04 Sep 2007 12:30
Former Hard Livings gang leader Rashied Staggie has decided not to testify in his murder trial in the Cape High Court.
His advocate, Koos Louw, closed his client’s case on Tuesday morning without calling any witnesses.
Staggie is charged with the August 1996 killing of taxi driver Mogamat Ryklief, allegedly in revenge for the slaying three days earlier of Staggie’s twin brother and fellow gang leader Rashaad by vigilante group Pagad.
On Monday the state closed its case after leading evidence from only one witness—former police informer and drug dealer Donovan “Weermag” Richards, who told the court he had been one of four hitmen acting on Staggie’s orders.
Richards said that although Ryklief’s father had been identified on a video as one of Rashaad’s killers, and Staggie had ordered the killing of the father, the hitmen had killed the son, Mogamat, instead.
In closing argument on Tuesday, prosecutor Anthony Stephen told the court that Staggie should be convicted of “at least” the first alternative count, of conspiracy to murder.
It was quite clear that Staggie gave an instruction that there should be an assassination, and the four hitmen agreed.
Even if that specific person was not killed, the offence of conspiracy had been committed.
He said that the killing was “in essence a revenge assassination” following Rashaad’s death.
The Hard Livings, a criminal gang, had been involved in the killing, and Rashied Staggie had been at the least a very senior member of it.
On those facts alone, the only reasonable inference was that the assassination was ordered by the top structure of the gang.
He also submitted that Richards’ evidence that the killing followed the video identification, was correct.
“It is quite clear that the instruction could have come from no other person than the accused,” he said.
Louw, for Staggie, said Richards had lied and contradicted himself, and challenged the state’s decision not to call any other witnesses, particularly Staggie’s former co-accused in the current case, Eugene “Kojak” Mashonga.
Mashonga last week entered into a plea agreement and was sentenced to ten years’ jail.
Louw said a statement by Mashonga attached to the agreement contradicted Richards’ evidence, and calling him as a witness would have sunk the alternative charges against Staggie.
He also said the fact that Staggie was charged with the killing only seven years after Richards first told police about his role appeared at first glance to infringe on his right to a fair and speedy trial.
Staggie is currently serving time for other offences, including rape and firearms charges.
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