Pagad threatened Rondebosch ‘gun runner’
Police escort Laher from court
SUSPECTED gun smuggler Irshaad Laher, accused of selling thousands of stolen police weapons to Cape Flats gangsters, had to sneak out of the Bellville Magistrate’s Court with a police escort amid claims his life might be in danger.
Laher is accused of buying about 2 000 firearms from convicted former police colonel Christiaan Prinsloo, then selling these guns to local criminals.
He appeared in the dock yesterday alongside Gauteng arms dealer Alan Raves. More arrests are expected in the matter.
Before their case was called, Laher and Raves sat in the public gallery apparently unfazed by the protesters, who included national People Against Gangsterism and Drugs ( Pagad) co- ordinator Abdus- Salaam Ebrahim.
At one point when Laher left the courtroom, Ebrahim and other Pagad members followed.
Moments later the members started shouting: “Allahu Akbar.”
They surrounded Laher, who was standing in a passage near his legal team with his head bowed.
Ebrahim shouted at him that he needed to acknowledge “all the people suffering in our country because of you”.
“How many children have died because of him?” Ebrahim yelled.
Police officers stepped in to keep the group away from Laher, then forced the protesters to leave the court.
While this was happening, a woman walked up to Laher, pointed at him and spoke steadily.
“For every child I have had to bury because of the guns that you have smuggled in, I’m praying that you listen to what God has to say to you today.”
Laher, who briefly made eye contact with her, was then ushered into the courtroom. Outside the court building other protesters shouted threats, including: “Get a hand grenade for him.”
Pagad’s deputy national co- ordinator Haroon Orrie, who was among the few dozen protesters, warned Laher was at risk of being attacked.
“Given the anger in communities, I think the possibility is great that something will happen to Mr Laher,” he said.
Asked about Laher’s safety yesterday, his legal representative, Pete Mihalik, said his client was a family man who “trusts that his God will protect him”.
Earlier this month an explosive device was thrown at Laher’s Rondebosch home, but did not detonate.
During yesterday’s proceedings it emerged the cases against Laher and Raves would be separated for now.
While Raves’s case was transferred to the Western Cape High Court where pretrial proceedings are set to start on November 4, Laher is expected back in the Bellville court on October 18.
In Raves’s case, defence witnesses from within South Africa and abroad are expected to be called.
When proceedings ended yesterday, Laher was ushered quickly through a side door in the courtroom.
He did not leave the building via the normal public exit.
Raves did, however, and as he walked out protesters screamed that he was a murderer.
Raves remained silent as they jostled around him.
Scores of public order police officers monitored the group and when the situation escalated, they blocked off a section of the road in front of the court.
Mary Classen, of Hanover Park, shouted directly in Raves’s face: “We want justice for each and every mother whose child has been killed in gang violence.”
Her son, Devan Classe, 24, was murdered in a gang shooting in 2013.
Roegshanda Pascoe, a community leader from Manenberg, said she found it disturbing that Laher and Raves had legal representatives speaking on their behalf in court.
“I get so angry… What about those killed in gang violence?
“Who is speaking to them? They’ve been robbed of their voices,” she said.
Protesters shout at Alan Raves, accused of being part of a gun smuggling syndicate, outside the Bellville Magistrate’s Court yesterday.