Last week, Paul Manafort, the former election campaign chair for US president Donald Trump, appeared in court on bank fraud, tax fraud, and money laundering charges.
But what really raised eyebrows during the start of the trial in Virginia was the revelation, made during the prosecution's opening argument, that Manafort spent more than R200,000 ($15,000) on a jacket "made from an ostrich".
Manafort stands accused of bank and tax fraud for allegedly concealing tens of millions of dollars from his contracted work for a pro-Russian Ukrainian leader. When he stopped receiving payments, he allegedly lied about his income in order to get approved for bank loans in the US.
Manafort is a subject in the US special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, but his current trial pertains to his alleged financial crimes. He faces another trial in September on charges he failed to register as a foreign lobbyist
The internet also appeared to put Manafort on trial for his fashion choices after the Department of Justice released images of his ostrich leather jacket:
I think I figured out why manafort owned an ostrich jacket. It is is something you need in order to work for trump - it allows you to stick your head in the sand.— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) August 1, 2018
In a just world, an ostrich would be wearing a jacket made of Paul Manafort.— Rex Huppke (@RexHuppke) August 2, 2018
I have never in my life given a thought to ostrich jackets and didn't even know they existed and now I can't stop thinking about them and how much I want one just because.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 2, 2018
While its not known who sold Manafort the jacket, there is a fair chance that the controversial leather jacket (or at least its leather) originated from South Africa.
South Africa is the world leader in ostrich production with 75% of global market share. Some 90% of South African ostrich meat and products are exported, which earned some R58 million last year.
According to Mariska Coetzee, spokesperson of the high-end exotic leather goods producer Cavalli, an extra-large ostrich leather jacket for a man would normally retail in SA for a maximum of R38,000.
“Ostrich leather is considered a precious material – and that not everyone can afford it. It is much more expensive than python and anaconda, and is ranked third in terms of cost after crocodile and alligator leather respectively,” Coetzee told Business Insider South Africa.
“Ostrich leather contains natural oils which mean it resists cracking and stiffness. (It is) luxurious, soft, supple, and thick, featuring an exotic goose bump appearance from the large feather quill follicles."
A single ostrich will deliver more than four meters of leather.
Also from Business Insider South Africa: