Friend and business partner of man killed at Rosebank restaurant is 'looking for answers'

10 June 2022 - 18:25 By Hendrik Hancke
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Medi Response paramedics in Rosebank after a man was shot dead on Thursday.
Medi Response paramedics in Rosebank after a man was shot dead on Thursday.
Image: Medi Response

Vijay Ghanshamdas, a “decades-long friend” and business partner of Jason Lambe, who was gunned down while waiting for breakfast in a popular Johannesburg eatery on Thursday, says he has more questions than answers about his friend’s “unexpected end”. 

“I have known Jason for 20 years. As far as I know, no business that he was involved in had the kind of turnover that could cause a murder like this in broad daylight,” Ghanshamdas told TimesLIVE on Friday.

Ghanshamdas says the police only reached out to him “20 minutes” before he spoke to this reporter.

“I heard about Jason’s death last night. I couldn’t sleep at all and I am still in shock. How can something like this be possible in broad daylight and in a public space?”

Ghanshamdas, who was a co-director at MJ Impex with Lambe, is still looking for answers.

“Jason never had anything to do with the money or day-to-day management of businesses he invested in. Why would anyone want to murder him? This has to be for some kind of personal reason or a deal or business that I did not know about.”

He had been involved in two ventures with Lambe.

“The first one was a business where we had kiosks in three malls selling vapes and vaping products. The business failed, but it was so small we were left with only about R200,000 to R300,000 worth of stock to sell off,” says Ghanshamdas.

He says Lambe financed this business.

At the time of the murder, they were involved in a supply business in the hydroponic cannabis industry.

“We sold grow lights and grow tents to retailers. So we had no contact with any customers in the growing trade. Even this business is too small for someone to want to commit murder. Our turnover hovered between R200,000 and R300,000 a month.

“I know he was also involved in some property deals, but I don’t have more details.”

He says even though Lambe had legal residence in the United Arab Emirates, he was born in SA.

“Jason spent very little time in SA. Over the course of the last three years he probably spent about three months here. The rest of the time he was in Dubai,” says Ghanshamdas.

He is still shocked.

“This is insanity. How is it possible that gunmen can walk into an eatery in one of the busiest areas of Johannesburg in broad daylight and do this and get away? There must be hundreds of cameras in that area.”  

Lambe was waiting for breakfast at 10am on Thursday with two unknown men in Tasha’s at The Zone mall, when the two masked assailants entered the restaurant.

A police source close to the investigation told TimesLIVE the two suspects walked straight to the table where the victim was sitting and one of them fired several shots into him.

“The victim himself was armed, but did not have the time or opportunity to draw his own weapon,” said the police source.

“When the two murderers started shooting, the other two men [having breakfast with Lambe] fled the scene. With them running we had very little to go on but we have information that those two and the two attackers are of Arabic descent,” the police source said.

He said a possible motive was starting to take shape.

“Investigators are looking into information that the deceased was a witness to a violent crime in the past. It is unclear if this incident took place in SA or abroad but the investigation is still in a very early stage.”

Ghanshamdas finds that hard to believe.

“There is almost no violent crime in the UAE, so it would have had to have happened here. If Jason witnessed something like that in SA he would have mentioned something, even in passing.”

He has no idea of any possible motive.

“Jason had no enemies that I know of. No angry ex-wife or business partners, nothing.”

Col Dimakatso Sello, a Gauteng police spokesperson, says the motive for Lambe’s murder is still unknown.

“I can only confirm the information that I have already provided,” Sello answered to a direct request for comment on the four alleged suspects’ nationality and the possible motive.

“A case of murder will be investigated and the police appeal to anyone who may have information that can assist with the investigation to please contact the Crime Stop Line at 08600 10111 or anonymously report tip-offs on MySaps app. All information received will be treated as strictly confidential,” Sello told TimesLIVE.

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