Pretoria - Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa today congratulated the police team who, through their investigation, helped secure the successful sentencing of William Mbatha, commonly known as 'King of Bling'.
On Wednesday, Mbatha was found guilty on 24 charges including robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, possession of an unlicensed firearm and the impersonation of police officers.
Johannesburg High Court Acting Judge Narren Pandya sentenced him to 123 years imprisonment, however, he will serve 35 years since the judge requested that he serves other charges concurrently.
"We have noted and welcome the sentencing, mindful that this case took longer in terms of investigations and conclusion; at times with police being unfairly accused by some in society of dragging their feet," Mthethwa said.
However, he understood that for police to secure harsh convictions they needed to conduct thorough and good investigations, leaving no stone unturned.
"This is what we have been emphasising that whilst we are pleased when police arrest suspects, what becomes even crucial going forward is to secure harsher convictions," said Mthethwa.
He said the police hoped this befitting sentence will further serve as a warning to all in society that crime does not reward.
Mbatha shot to prominence when his wealthy public lifestyle became a topic of tabloid newspapers.
The State has since attached his three Harley-Davidson motorbikes, a house worth R2.4 million and furniture worth more than R2 million. He has another multi-million rand house in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, and one in Hartbeesfontein, North West, and a night club in Pretoria.
"We remain particularly concerned about some young people who often idolise such negative role models without knowing that all this 'bling bling' and possessions are unsustainable, in fact in most cases, it is blood money," Mthethwa said.
He highlighted that one modus operandi which was continuously worrying around Mbatha's "commission of crimes" was the impersonation of police officers. This trend had the potential to negatively affect society's trust in the police and create tensions.
"The arrest and subsequent sentencing did not only come as a result of police investigations team but importantly, through working together with their colleagues from justice and prosecutions. This cluster approach is in line with ensuring that the Criminal Justice System is people-centred, protects, favours the rights of law-abiding citizens yet punishes those who break the law," he said.