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Mob Burns Cape Town Gang Leader to Death

August 5, 1996 GMT

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) _ Vigilantes shot a Cape Town gang leader Sunday and set him afire, killing him as police looked on helplessly.

The attackers _ backed by a crowd of about 200 supporters _ left Rashaad Staggie’s smoking body on the street and marched to a mosque for a celebratory prayer service.

``What has happened tonight shows what happens when you put your trust in Allah,″ a masked speaker told worshipers. ``Yes, we can clean our society and rid our society of scum.″

The attack _ committed by assailants who hid their faces behind scarves _ followed weeks of violent rhetoric against gangs from a loosely organized group linked to one of Cape Town’s most conservative mosques.

Staggie led the Hard Living Kids, one of the strongest of the scores of gangs that deal in drugs, prostitution and other crime in the impoverished, largely Muslim neighborhoods of Cape Town. He had been repeatedly arrested on drug and weapons charges.

The citizens’ group led several marches and convoys to the homes of suspected criminals in what was meant as an intimidating show of force.

Sunday’s protest went out of control after people in a targeted house began firing at the crowd outside.

Police arrived and cordoned off the area, but took no further steps to break up the crowd. Police spokesman Capt. John Sterrenberg said members of the crowd restrained one police officer who tried to draw his gun.

Shots were fired from the crowd when Staggie drove up to the house, and Staggie fell from his car. Someone threw a petrol bomb that set him on fire, followed by more shots at close range.

Gunfire wounded 10 people, police said.