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Smiling shyly and gesturing at the crowd of journalists swarming around the unmarked correctional services car he was travelling in, Rashied Staggie’s release played out like the arrival of an international celebrity.
It has been 11 years since the notorious former Hard Livings gang leader was placed behind bars after he was convicted for the rape of a 17-year-old girl and a string of other crimes.
On Monday morning he was released from Pollsmoor Prison’s main entrance on day parole at around 9.15am.
Friends and family gathered in the sun-washed parking lot outside the jail in Tokai to greet the 57-year-old.
His wife, Rashieda, sitting in the back of a parked sedan, with a young child on her lap, said she was excited about his release.
She added that Staggie had no intention of returning to his “old ways”. But the convicted gangster’s children, of whom four had come to show their support, said they feared for their father’s safety.
Businessman and ex-convict Kenny Kunene and pastor Ivan Waldeck also came to show their support.
“I believe he can have a really positive impact on young people,” said Waldeck. According to Waldeck, Staggie would work as a motivational speaker during his six months of day parole. It is this job that has been outlined as a crucial part of his parole conditions.
Correctional Services chief deputy commissioner James Smalberger stressed that Staggie would not be allowed to freely walk the streets.
“He will work during the day and return to Pollsmoor when he is done to stay in jail overnight,” he explained.
Staggie has been fitted with a tracking device on his ankle.
The device will not only keep track of his movements, but will also alert authorities when he enters areas that he has been banned from visiting.
Smalberger did not confirm whether one of the excluded zones was the gangster’s old turf in Manenberg.
He added that Staggie would travel to work by taxi and would be allowed a family day at his home every Sunday. Monday had been set aside as an orientation day for the convicted gangster.
“A lot can change in 10 years,” said Smalberger.
Staggie was accompanied by a pair of correctional services employees for the day, which was due to see him visiting the mall, Waldeck’s church in Bellville and the gangster’s new workplace.
But Staggie first stop was his family home in Salt River.
Waldeck said he had booked a hotel room so Staggie could enjoy time alone with his family.