Home South African Thabo Bester’s new legal team argues against virtual proceedings

Thabo Bester’s new legal team argues against virtual proceedings

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Advocate Jeremiah Pela pleaded with the State to allow Thabo Bester to appear in person and not virtually, saying he needed to consult his client properly following his appointment.

Convicted serial rapist and murderer Thabo Bester during a previous appearance in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Screenshot, Newzroom Afrika

THABO Bester’s case has been postponed until June 20, 2023, for further investigation.

Bester appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court virtually from Kgosi Mampuru Maximum Prison in Pretoria, following his recapture after he staged an escape from Mangaung Correctional Centre in May 2022.

His new lawyer, advocate Jeremiah Pela, took over from Bester’s previous legal team, which withdrew its legal representation of the Facebook rapist who faces charges related to his prison escape.

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Advocate Phinda pleaded with the State to allow Bester to appear in person and not virtually, saying he needed to consult his client properly following his appointment.

However, the State prosecutor, Sello Matlhoko, argued against this. He said the State would not allow itself to be forced into transporting Bester from Pretoria to Bloemfontein.

“I see no reason for the State to transport Bester to come and appear in court. I agree that we cannot make comparisons with (Bester’s girlfriend Nandipha) Magudumana, and these issues should be reserved for trial,” the State prosecutor said.

The magistrate, Mohlolo Khabisi, shared the State prosecutor’s sentiments about not transporting Bester from Pretoria. The magistrate said the legal team’s arguments lacked merit.

“The magistrates are not convinced, and this request brought by the defendant’s legal team lacks merit, and the matter has been postponed to June 20, 2023.

“Mr Bester, you shall remain in custody; your case is remanded to June 20, 2023, for further investigation.

“You will remain in custody until then. As to whether it will be virtual or in person, that will be further canvassed by the State and your legal council,” the magistrate said.

This was after Bester also wanted to know if he would be appearing virtually or in person during his next appearance.

Pela said his bone of contention in requesting a physical appearance was due to limited opportunities to consult his client as well as the need for the State to prove beyond reasonable doubt the true identity of Thabo Bester.

He said the warrant of arrest had been cancelled.

“The warrant of arrest issued by this very same court was cancelled, and all of a sudden a gentleman purported to be Thabo Bester was brought to court. There is nothing except for a purported birth certificate and a court stamp that proves that the accused is Thabo Bester.

“This purported birth certificate is purported to have a Home Affairs stamp.

“If we want to satisfy ourselves, it is purposed until such time it has been proved by Home Affairs.

“We want the State to prove that the person before the court is Thabo Bester,” Pela said.

However, the magistrate and the State said they were satisfied that they had the right person, adding that they had no reason to believe that the person was not Bester.

“Why should the court believe that the wrong person was brought to court?” Khabisi said.

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