Alleged gun runner Irshaad Laher’s attempts to get access to his frozen assets of over R4 million have failed.
Western Cape High Court Judge, Elizabeth Baartman, last week dismissed an application brought by the Cape businessman’s lawyers to have a provisional restraint order against him scrapped.
Instead Baartman confirmed the order against Laher, which freezes his assets until the conclusion of his criminal case.
Laher faces charges of fraud and money laundering for allegedly selling over 2000 guns he bought from convicted ex-cop Christian Prinsloo.
According to the state’s case, between 2008 and 2014, Prinsloo stole guns and R5 rifles from the police armoury, meant to be destroyed, and sold them to Laher for R1000 each.
It’s alleged that Laher then sold them to gangsters on the Cape Flats at a marked-up price of R4500, making a profit of R9 million.
Prinsloo is currently serving an 18-year prison term and turned state witness against Laher who is due back in court in October.
The Asset and Forfeiture Unit had Laher’s assets frozen after they found out through news reports that the Rondebosch businessman had sold his shares in Nando’s and Spur franchises.
The 41-year-old owned Spur restaurants in Ottery and Observatory; Nando’s in Athlone and Gardens, and leased five properties in Lansdowne with a joint value of about R2.5 million.
On August 18, Laher’s lawyer argued before Judge Baartman that the state had provided very little to prove that they had enough evidence to secure a conviction that would explain the need for the freeze.
But in her 11-page judgement on Thursday, Baartman said: “I am persuaded sufficient evidence was before the court to determine that the defendant [Laher] had been charged, one of his co-accused had already been sentenced and the defendant was dissipating his assets.”
“The defendant publicly admitted that he had divested himself of assets because of the serious allegations against him.”
Yesterday one of Laher’s five lawyers, Noorudien Hassan, told the Daily Voice he still needed to read through the judgement with his client before advising him on a way forward.
The National Prosecuting Authority’s Eric Ntabazalila says they welcome the court’s decision.