Home South African Nandipha Magudumana in court charged with helping Thabo Bester escape from prison

Nandipha Magudumana in court charged with helping Thabo Bester escape from prison

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In the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court charged with multiple counts of murder, violation of bodies, aiding and abetting an escapee, defeating the ends of justice and fraud.

Thabo Bester’s girlfriend Dr Nandipha Magudumana in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

DR Nandipha Magudumana, who allegedly assisted Facebook rapist Thabo Bester, will join her father Zolile Cornelius Sekeleni in the dock – charged with the same offence of aiding and abetting a prisoner.

On Thursday, Magudumana made her first appearance in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court charged with multiple counts of murder, violation of bodies, aiding and abetting an escapee, defeating the ends of justice and fraud.

She was not asked to plead.

She stood accused beside Teboho James Lipholo – who is only charged with aiding and abetting an escapee.

Lipholo was allegedly working for a company that operated cameras at the Mangaung Correctional Centre in May last year on the day that Bester apparently “walked out” of the prison.

The two made a brief appearance in court lasting less than 15 minutes and the case was postponed to Monday for a possible bail application.

Her dramatic appearance, under heavy police guard, followed her return from Tanzania with Bester, a convicted murderer and rapist, at the Lanseria International Airport on Thursday.

This came after a breakthrough between South African and Tanzanian authorities who executed the arrests, including that of a Mozambican national.

Bester is being kept at the Kgosi Mampuru II Correction Centre’s C-Max prison in Pretoria, while Magudumana was whisked to Bloemfontein to appear in court over the charges against her and her co-accused. At their next appearance, Magudumana will be the third accused next to her father – who was charged with former G4S employee and alleged mastermind of the escape, Senohe Ishmael Matsoara.

Earlier on Thursday, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola and Police Minister Bheki Cele, expressed their gratitude to the Tanzanian authorities for their role in the arrest of the couple on April 10 in Arusha, and their return to South Africa to face the music.

Addressing the media, Cele confirmed that Magudumana had co-operated with the South African and Tanzanian authorities during her arrest and subsequent repatriation to the country.

Not the same could be said about Bester, Cele added. He said that the fugitive’s identity had to be forensically confirmed through his finger prints, which matched those obtained by the Tanzanian authorities.

At the briefing, however, the National Commissioner of Correctional Services, Makgothi Thobakgale, had to confirm to the media that Bester would not have the slightest chance to escape from Kgosi Mampuru C-Max.

The last person to do so was another convicted rapist and criminal Ananias “Houdini” Mathe in December 2006.

Thobakgale had joined ministers, the Deputy Minister of Correctional Services Phathekile Holomisa and the National Commissioner of Police Fannie Masemola, who were replying to questions from the media.

Bester’s security took centre stage at the media conference, with journalists expressing concern about his safety, after reports that he had bribed his way out of the Mangaung Correctional Centre.

It was insinuated that some of his alleged accomplices might attempt to kill him to prevent him from “spilling the beans” about his escape or “walk-out” from prison in May last year.

But Thobakgale was adamant his officers had a security plan for his incarceration at the Pretoria prison.

He said: “Bester will be under 24/7 security guard and close monitoring by correctional services officers well-trained to deal with people such as Bester.”

Thobakgale said there had been no reports of escapes from that prison in the recent past, but conceded that Mathe had indeed escaped from such a facility, saying that “was a long time ago”.

“The prison was upgraded in the past five years. He will never escape,” Thobakgale assured the media. Mathe escaped in December 2006, but the circumstances of his escape still remain sketchy in spite of some officials having been sacked over the incident.

Bester, like Mathe, is a convicted rapist. Mathe was kept at C-Max.

On April 30, 2006 he tried to escape, but was unsuccessful. In November he did escape by breaking the bars of his cell and then using cloth and hooks to scale the high wall of the prison.

Mathe’s crime spree ended on December 4, 2006, when he was traced driving a stolen car which had a tracker.

He had just robbed his last victim, Cameron Jeanne Meiklejohn, in her home in Craighall Park, Johannesburg.

Pretoria News

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