/ 7 November 2022

Mercedes-Benz prison ‘fraudster’ fails to make his bail application

Jailhouse Cod With A Dash Of Hijacking
Jermaine Prim, who allegedly ran an elaborate scam targeting luxury car owners from his cell, will return to court in later November

The “bad behaviour” of Jermaine Prim, the convicted gangster accused of running a sophisticated Mercedes-Benz theft syndicate from prison, stalled his bail bid because the alleged fraudster was not taken to court.

Prim, a known Eldorado Park, Johannesburg, gangster, was moved from the awaiting trial section of the Johannesburg Correctional Centre, also known as Sun City, because of an elaborate fraud operation he allegedly runs from inside his prison cell.

The convicted car thief is facing fresh theft and fraud charges for allegedly scouring social media sites and consumer complaints platforms such as Hellopeter to look for disgruntled Mercedes-Benz vehicle owners to dupe them into “voluntarily” giving him their cars. 

On Friday, Prim was scheduled to launch his bail application for the fresh charges in the Johannesburg specialised commercial crimes court, sitting in Palm Ridge. 

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A source close to the Prim investigation said he had been moved from the awaiting trial to the convicted inmates section of Sun City because of the fresh charges. “Prim was moved to the convicted section due to his bad behaviour, but this has made it logistically difficult for him to be brought to court.”

Prim was previously held at Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre in Tshwane, Gauteng, before being moved to Johannesburg and investigators would take him to court but, the source said, the police refused to do so once he was moved to the Johannesburg prison.

“That is why he did not make it to court on Friday,” the source added.

The M&G approached Joe Strauss, of Strauss De Waal Attorneys, the law firm representing Prim, at court for comment on Friday, but he declined to speak.

According to investigative notes from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Prim attempted to steal a Mercedes-Benz C63 from Rudolpho Tuffet, who had complained on social media about alleged bad service by the vehicle manufacturer. 

The investigative documents stated that Prim called Tuffet on 10 January 2018 under the alleged false pretence of being a Mercedes-Benz senior official called “Shane”. 

“The person who called Rudolf Tuffet was accused three [Prim] and at the time when accused three made the phone call to Rudolf Tuffet, accused three was a detainee at Johannesburg Correctional Centre,” reads the investigative notes. 

The alleged call was made from a telephone number that was “used by Mercedes Benz South Africa at the time, and accused three had manipulated the phone from which he made the call to Rudolf Tuffet to reflect a number that was allocated to Mercedes Benz South Africa by Telkom South Africa”. 

Mercedes-Benz South Africa said it had no employee called Shane. 

A sting operation was organised to nab Clayton Bouwers and Robert Sass, the co-accused in the matter and allegedly Prim’s alleged runners on the outside. 

“At the time when accused number one [Bouwers] was arrested, he was wearing a T-shirt and a cap that had Mercedes-Benz logos on them. When accused number one drove into the premises [in Honeydew], he signed in as ‘Richard’ and also misrepresented that he was from Mercedes-Benz,” reads the NPA notes. 

Prim, Bouwers and Sass will return to court on 17 November, and again on 29 November when his bail application is expected to resume.