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Publication Details

Reference
Desai, Ashwin  (2004) The Cape of Good Dope? A post-apartheid story of gangs and vigilantes. Centre for Civil Society : 1-34.

Summary
Everything lies in the challenge and the duel – that is to say, everything still lies in the dual personal relation with the opposing power. It is that power which humiliated you, so it must be humiliated. And not merely exterminated. It has to be made to lose face ... it must be targeted and wounded in a genuinely adversarial relation. (Baudillard 2002:25-26)

Pagad (People Against Gangsterism and Drugs)entered the South African political landscape in dramatic fashion. On the night of the 4th August 1996, Pagad drove in convoy from the Gatesville Mosque to the house of the head of the Hard Livings gang, Rashaad Staggie. He was not home, but in an act of bravado, arrived.
Already shots had been fired between Pagad and those inside Staggie’s Salt River home. While trying to alight from his vehicle, he was shot in the head. As he fell out of his bakkie, ‘his inert body, apparently dead, was kicked, jumped on, hit with the butt of a shotgun and shot several more times before a petrol bomb was hurled at the body. Miraculously, this revived the mortally wounded man and he rose and tried to run away, only to be brought down by a volley of gunfire from the crowd’. (Sunday Tribune 11 August 1996)

All this happened in the full glare of the media and with the police present. It was one of the first times a movement in post-apartheid South Africa acted with such impunity and with such directness in respect of their aims and objectives. Pagad wanted to rid the flats of gangs and drugs. Participants in its first big mass march had just killed a leading gangster and known drug-dealer. Five years later Pagad was involved in another dramatic incident in the city centre:

Shots were fired and pedestrians scrambled for cover as policemen engaged in a shootout with seven men who escaped from court in Cape Town . . . The seven members of Pagad’s G-Force, faced urban terrorism charges. They apparently overpowered a policemen in the high court’s holding cells during a lunch break and seized his gun . . . scaled a gate to reach Queen Victoria Street, and were then involved in a shootout with the police in the after-lunch traffic in the city centre. (The Mercury, 5 October 2001) What had happened in the five years that turned Pagad from being an organisation seeking to rid the Cape Flats of druglords into fugitives from the law?

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