Arms dealer accused of stealing military, police property

2017-02-16 10:59
Rondebosch businessman Irshaad Laher hides his face as he leaves the high court. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Rondebosch businessman Irshaad Laher hides his face as he leaves the high court. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town – A Vereeniging arms dealer who has yet to appear in the Western Cape High Court because of ill health, stands accused of stealing military and police firearms and trying to pass them off as his own.

Alan Raves allegedly hired a registered gunsmith to erase the serial numbers and substitute them with other numbers.

This is according to an amended indictment handed to the court, after Raves failed to appear alongside Rondebosch businessman Irshaad Laher last week.

They are set to go on trial for their alleged roles in a syndicate which involved police officers, and which saw at least 2 000 firearms that were meant to be destroyed, sold to gangsters around Cape Town.

Raves, 50, was a registered arms dealer in Gauteng before his arrest. The SA Heritage Resource Agency employed him to assess firearms for potential heritage value before they were destroyed.

The State alleges he stole 18 weapons from the Durban Light Infantry, a regiment of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), between September 2012 and September 2015.

He is accused of stealing, between 2007 or 2008 and January 2015, a further 15 weapons from the SANDF and police.

Some of these stolen weapons, according to the amended indictment, include:
• Vickers 7.62mm light machine gun. Sources have said this is sometimes referred to as a "chainsaw" because of how it rips apart targets. This type of weapon can be mounted in a plane, a tank, or bakkie;
• Vektor SS 77 light machine gun, which News24 understands was still a prototype when it was stolen;
• Gorjunov light machine gun;
• RPD light machine gun.

Theft, racketeering, money laundering

According to the document, Raves approached the Central Firearms Registry in Pretoria in September 2015. He applied to have 33 firearms added to the stock of his company, allegedly committing fraud by passing himself off as the lawful owner.

The State accuses him of not keeping proper registers.

Some information was not recorded in permanent ink, some of the alterations were not signed, and some entries did not contain crucial details about identities, addresses, licence numbers, and when firearms were acquired or disposed of.

Raves was arrested in August 2015, after several guns ranging from assault rifles to small-calibre arms were seized.

He and Laher were allegedly key players in a criminal enterprise between 2007/8 and January 2015.

Laher is accused of buying guns from ex-police officer Chris Prinsloo of Vereeniging, who was recently sentenced to 18 years behind bars after entering a plea and sentence agreement with the State.

He pleaded guilty to 11 charges including theft, racketeering, and money laundering.

Prinsloo, a former police colonel, was in charge of the police armoury and stole 2 400 guns over almost a decade.

Meant to be destroyed

Police had very strict instructions on destroying all redundant, obsolete, and discarded firearms. They had to be kept under lock and key in sealed steel boxes at the confiscated firearms store in Silverton, Gauteng, before being fragmented or melted.

Prinsloo apparently got to know Laher well when they were both stationed at De Deur police station at one stage.

Laher, who goes by the nickname "Hunter", belonged to the SA Hunters Association and served on the executive of the Western Cape Sports Shooting Federation.

According to the amended indictment, Laher offered Prinsloo R2m in exchange for stealing firearms and ammunition for him that were meant to be destroyed.

After Prinsloo was arrested, he apparently told police he sold about 2 000 guns to Laher. The State listed different variations of semi-automatic pistols as part of the alleged haul.

Raves was accused of something similar by allegedly offering Prinsloo and another police officer R100 000 for firearms and ammunition. He was charged with stealing parts of firearms, between 300 and 400 rifles, and up to 20 000 rifle cartridges.

In November, it emerged that Raves was fighting for his life in ICU. He suffered multi-organ dysfunction and was on a ventilator and dialysis.

On Friday, the court heard that his condition had somewhat improved, but that he could still not travel to Cape Town because of a serious bedsore.

The pair face a raft of charges ranging from racketeering and corruption, to theft and possession of prohibited firearms.

A warrant of arrest for Raves has been held over until the pair's next appearance on May 12.

Read more on:    cape town  |  corruption  |  arms  |  crime

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