'King of bling' in court
Pretoria - A suspected Gauteng crime boss known as the "king of bling", appeared the Germiston Regional Court on Wednesday, charged with armed robbery.
William (Mashobane) Mbatha, 36, was on the Gauteng police's list of most wanted criminals.
Apparently he enjoyed showing off his wealth, allegedly earned by armed robberies in particular.
The Pretoria Magistrate's Court - where he is facing nine charges, including housebreaking, theft and tax offences - had earlier freed him on R50 000 bail.
He was arrested again last month due to attempted robbery and the possession of an unlicensed firearm.
Recognised in the press
The victim in this case, a Bedfordview resident, alleged that Mbatha showed him a false police identity card, and fled in a police vehicle.
On August 6, Mbatha was set free on bail of R15 000 in the Germiston Magistrate's Court.
According to Senior Superintendent Tummi Golding, national crime intelligence police spokesperson, the alleged victims of a house robbery in Meyersdal in April, recognised Mbatha in the press.
Mbatha was arrested on August 12 on charges relating to this incident and last week appeared in the Germiston Regional Court, where the case was postponed to Wednesday. It was again postponed to August 26.
A team of heavily armed police officials, led by Superintendent Chris du Plessis of the Germiston detective branch, were standing guard outside court on Wednesday, at first preventing journalists from entering the court, until the court said this was forbidden.
Du Plessis told Beeld it was "a high profile case" and they "were requested by the court to protect court officials". However, one official later noted that Mbatha was an "influential man".
Just how influential Mbatha really is, will soon come out in court.
Beeld heard confidentially that Mbatha owned a collection of luxury vehicles, including a Lamborghini, BMWs and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
On his Facebook profile he proudly shows off his possessions, designer clothes, expensive liquor as well as the well-known people he has met.
Mbatha, who hails from Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, apparently owns three houses, including a R2.5m mansion in Irene, and a weekend home at the Hartbeespoort Dam.
He claims to be a taxi owner from Atteridgeville, where he is also the director and stockholder of the Ramsquare Café & Jazz Pub and the owner of Mbatha Travel.
According to police they are investigating the possibility that these businesses are merely a front for his alleged crimes.