Where's the prison uniform, Mbatha?
EVEN behind bars, William "Mashobane" Mbatha still exudes the style and elegance that elevated him to celebrity status.
Mbatha, 38, is serving 35 years in prison for a litany of crimes, including robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, possession of firearms and ammunition, posing as a police officer and unlawfully wearing a police uniform.
On Friday, Mbatha once again appeared at the Germiston Magistrate's Court to face other charges of robbery, illegal possession of a firearm and car theft.
True to form and style, the "King of Bling" showed up dressed in a branded tracksuit and looked stylish. But one of the police officers close to the case was not impressed and insisted that he should be treated as a convict.
"The man is a criminal and he is being treated like a celebrity. He should be wearing prison uniform, not his own clothes," said the policeman.
The Department of Correctional Services said there was nothing wrong with dressing up in his own fashionable clothes.
Department spokesman Phumlani Ximiya said the department's policy was that trialists should not wear orange prison uniform when they were going to appear in court.
" The departmental policy is that all offenders will not appear in court in offender uniform," Ximiya said.
He said there was release uniform for poor prisoners who could not afford decent clothing in order to protect their dignity.
The only time an offender could wear prison uniform is if a request has been sent to court, Ximiya added.
"If perhaps he is a flight risk or has attempted to escape before."
The spokesman said prisoners could only change into their civilian clothes while they were still in prison and going to court.
Outside the Germiston Magistrate's Court onlookers watched as Mbatha was put in a police vehicle and returned to the Johannesburg prison.
There was a heavy police presence and Queen Street, leading to the court, was cordoned off. Motorists were ordered to use alternative routes.
Since Mbatha's incarceration last month, the state has since attached his three Harley-Davidson motorbikes, a house worth R2.4-million and furniture worth more than R2-million.
Mbatha's next appearance will be on June 6 at the Germiston Magistrate's Court.