Police had to diffuse the situation when members of the anti-drug group Pagad shouted at Irshaad Laher in a hall way at the Bellville magistrate’s court on Friday, accusing him of murdering innocent children on the Cape Flats. The Cape Town businessman and his co-accused appeared on charges of gun smuggling and racketeering. Outside, a handful of protesters gathered with placards, urging for justice for innocent civilians killed by violence in gang infested communities.
“Every child that I have had to bury is because of the guns you have smuggled,” an angry Cape Town reverend June Major was heard telling Laher outside the courtroom.
EFF Western Cape Chairperson Bernard Joseph was part of the group picketing outside the court to calling for harsher bail conditions for Laher.
“Those who profit by fuelling the gang violence in the Western Cape must be shown no leniency in bail conditions or in sentencing,” he said.
“It is a joke that the bail is set so low. Laher can pay R100000 with the change in his tiekie pocket from the money he has made from his criminal activities. The seriousness of his crimes, combined with the wealth and criminal connections he has amassed makes him a flight risk. The bail must be revoked and he must sit in a cell to await his trial.”
“Secondly, Laher’s weapons kill innocent men, women and children. His weapons hold people hostage in their homes, enforce the illicit economy and perpetuate a culture of violence and gangsters. Just because his finger is not on the trigger it doesn’t mean that there isn’t blood on Laher’s hands. The same is true for all others who profit from gang wars in the Western Cape,” said Joseph.
Laher and Vereeniging arms dealer, Alan Raves are accused of having sold arms to gangsters on the Cape Flats. Their names were singled out in a plea agreement by ex-colonel Chris Prinsloo who in June, was sentenced to 18 years for theft, racketeering, and money laundering. In his plea agreement, Prinsloo said he provided guns to a man in Cape Town, which eventually ended up in the hands of gangsters. The two apparently knew each other from their days in the police force in Gauteng when Prinsloo was a policeman and Laher a reservist.
According to the State, Prinsloo – who had 35 years’ experience in the police force – was part of a group of criminals who stole guns and ammunition destined for destruction and resold them, primarily to gangs on the Cape Flats. Prinsloo entered into a plea agreement with the State, and admitted to eleven charges of corruption, racketeering, theft and money laundering.
He confessed that over the period of eight years he used his position and resources as head of a Germiston amoury to supply weapons to criminals and an arms dealer. Together with the group of criminals he worked with, they stole 2,400 guns and in the process pocketed more than R2 million.
Laher is due back in court on October 18th while Raves case has been transferred to the Western Cape High Court for a pre-trial conference on November 4. VOC