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From bling to rags

By Olebogeng Molatlhwa | 2012-03-16 08:11:36.0

Robber's ill-gotten gains set to be taken away

LUXURY items believed to have been acquired from the proceeds of armed robber William "King of Bling" Mbatha's criminal activities might soon be state property.

Johannesburg High Court Acting Judge Naren Pandya yesterday granted the state permission to hold an inquiry that would in all likelihood see some of Mbatha's belongings confiscated.

The convict had a penchant for expensive toys, including 10 exotic cars and two Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

A lawyer for the state, acting separately from the main trial, told Judge Pandya that Mbatha, 38, "did derive benefit" from the crimes he was convicted of last week, before bringing forward an application to hold a confiscation order inquiry.

Prosecutor Ilze le Roux had earlier said of Mbatha: "He built his wealth and power on other people's loss and sorrow. His ill-gotten gains must be taken away."

Details of the impending inquiry were not available.

In mitigation of sentence, Mbatha's lawyer Francois Roets told the court that his client had "nothing" since he was arrested two years ago, but the state argued to the contrary.

The state said "movable property worth at least R2-million", including a multi-million rand house at Irene Woods Estate in Centurion was in Mbatha's name.

In his heydays, the self-styled "King of Bling" had interests in a number of businesses - from which he earned more than R100,000 a month, the court heard.

One such business, Ramsquare Cafe in Atteridgeville, was transferred into his wife's name before he was arrested.

But it seems that last week's guilty verdict and the prospect of having his belongings taken away by the state were not enough to force the fallen gangster to acknowledge his crimes.

Roets said Mbatha was not remorseful. "The accused maintains that he is not remorseful for any of the crimes he stands accused of since he is innocent."

Further attempts were made to force Mbatha into submission but he would not budge.

Asked by Judge Pandya what sentence she saw fit for Mbatha, Le Roux responded: "My Lord, I have thought long and hard about this aspect. I think he should serve between 60 and 75 years."

In December 2008, Mbatha assaulted Yubiao Cai, Andy Qinhen, Merriam Mokgadi and Yun Cai and robbed them of a ladies' watch, silver necklace, wallet, two Silver Star Casino chips valued at R100,000 each, another chip worth R1,000 as well as R26,350.

He was convicted of a string of other charges, including robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, possession of firearms and ammunition, posing as a police officer and unlawfully wearing a police uniform.

He will be sentenced on April 11.