Pa­gad threat­ened Ron­de­bosch ‘gun run­ner’

Police es­cort La­her from court

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - CARYN DOL­LEY

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.

caryn.dol­ley@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: IAN LANDS­BERG

Pro­test­ers shout at Alan Raves, ac­cused of be­ing part of a gun smug­gling syn­di­cate, out­side the Bel­lville Mag­is­trate’s Court yes­ter­day.

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