COPS TRY TO BLOCK MBATHA COVERAGE

A GROUP of policemen could find themselves in hot water after they entered a courtroom yesterday and tried to prevent reporters from sitting in a case involving suspected crime mastermind William "Mashobane" Mbatha.

A GROUP of policemen could find themselves in hot water after they entered a courtroom yesterday and tried to prevent reporters from sitting in a case involving suspected crime mastermind William "Mashobane" Mbatha.

In the process the heavily armed policemen claimed they were acting on orders from the presiding magistrate when they pushed reporters out of the court in Germiston.

The policemen, from Germiston detective services, led by a Superintendent JC du Plessis, claimed they were acting on "a ruling from the magistrate".

The group was earlier seen speaking in hushed voices and mumbling with Mbatha's friends before the hearing.

They are now in trouble after it turned out they made it all up to please the suspect.

Presiding magistrate Isabel Mlaba said their behaviour was "ridiculous".

"This is wrong. They can't just use my name and claim I made such a ruling. This is an open court," Mlaba said .

Du Plessis had earlier told reporters: "The magistrate ruled that you are not allowed inside."

But Mlaba denied this: "If I was not impressed with your presence I would have announced it in your presence."

Germiston police station Commissioner Director Johan Oosthuizen said he would investigate the incident.

"I will have to talk to my members before making comments, but should we find any wrongdoing we will take appropriate steps," he said.

Mbatha was remanded until Wednesday to allow time for an identity parade.

The "King of Bling", as Mbatha is known, was arrested last Wednesday by Germiston police in connection with an alleged house robbery case.

The Atteridgeville, Pretoria, socialite first made headlines when he was arrested in Johannesburg a month ago.

This followed an alleged attempted robbery in Bedfordview on July 14, in which he is said to have produced a fake police ID card before trying to rob a businessman of R30000.

The Germiston magistrate's court released him on R15000 bail, causing a public outcry.

The outrage was fuelled by the fact that he was already out on R50000 bail for other cases when magistrate Hasani Mashimbye set him free.

He was facing nine unrelated charges in the Pretoria magistrate's court, ranging from car theft and housebreaking to possession of an illegal firearm to tax offences.

Mbatha's latest arrest came after one of his alleged victims saw his pictures in the newspapers and alerted the police.

The complainant told the police that he was pulled off the road by Mbatha and three other accomplices, who were driving a BMW fitted with police lights on the night of April 4.

"Two of them got into the victim's car, drove to his house and allegedly stole two guns, a rifle, expensive jewellery and laptops," said Crime Intelligence spokesperson Tummi Golding.

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