Pietermaritzburg - The State has to release almost R2.4 million, which it restrained from the multimillionaire building contractor, Rajkapoor “Teddy” Lakraj, who is charged with fraud and corruption, so he can pay for his legal fees.

Three vehicles – a 2008 Mercedes Benz R320 (valued at R230 000), a 2006 Toyota Dyna (valued at R82 500) and a 2011 VW Amarok (valued at R276 000) – and which were also restrained, have to be released to him for his “reasonable use”.

He is not allowed to dispose of the vehicles as they still remain under restraint. Only a 2007 Ferrari F430 F1 (valued at R800 000 which was also part of the restraining order) has not been released for his use.

This was according to an order granted by the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday.

The assets amounting to almost R79m – including three properties and the four vehicles – were restrained in April this year as they were alleged to be the proceeds of crime. If Lakraj is found guilty, they could be confiscated by the State.

He is charged with 148 counts of fraud and corruption, including using his domestic worker Nomfanelo Beauty Maqephula, and her daughter Hlengiwe Maqephula, as fronts to secure contracts from the provincial public works department.

On Monday, the court ordered the curator Eugene Nel, to pay R20 675 a month to Lakraj for his living expenses, backdated to March. In addition, R1.1m has to be paid to him for the legal expenses in his criminal case and the restraint court proceedings.

Another amount of R760 019 has to be paid to him for the legal expenses he has already incurred. A further amount of R342 000 has to be paid to him when the trial starts.

Lakraj is allowed to apply to the court for more money to be released to him.

The order was granted on the basis that he had made a full disclosure under oath of all his interests in the properties.

Through his two companies, Quantum Leap Investments 24 (Pty) Ltd (trading as Teddy’s Construction) and Dreamteam Trading 562 cc (trading as Siyasiza Builders), Lakraj secured 3 000 contracts worth at least R87m from the Department of Public Works over several years.

Lakraj’s criminal case is pending in the Durban Commercial Crime Court. - The Mercury