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By Gareth Cotterell

Digital Editor

How Nandipha Magudumana ‘stole bodies’ to help Thabo Bester escape – report

Magudumana allegedly had to steal three bodies because Bester's initial attempts to escape failed.

Thabo Bester’s girlfriend, Nandipha Magudumana, allegedly stole three bodies from mortuaries in the Free State in a bid to help him escape from prison.

A Sunday Times report claims the bodies were obtained by Magudumana over a few weeks. This was done before Bester escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in May 2022.

Magudumana claimed bodies from mortuaries

Magudumana claimed one of the bodies after saying it was her father.

The body was later found dumped in a river a week later. It still had the mortuary’s identification tag attached to the toe, according to the Sunday Times.

Bester’s escape from prison

Bester escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein after it was initially believed he had committed suicide by setting himself alight in his cell.

After initially declaring him dead, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) confirmed at the end of March that the burnt body was actually not that of Bester.

ALSO READ: Dodgy WhatsApp war of words: Is Dr Nandipha’s ‘lawyer’ actually Thabo Bester?

Watch: Thabo Bester’s timeline of crime

After the fire broke out in Bester’s cell, it emerged that the DNA of the charred body  did not match that of Bester.

Police then registered a case of murder, which is currently under investigation.

According to the autopsy report, the deceased had died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, and was already dead before to the arson incident.

ALSO READ: Thabo Bester arrest: These are the names he and Nandipha Magudumana travelled under

The Sunday Times report adds that three bodies were stolen by Magudumana because attempts to escape by Bester were unsuccessful.

Bester’s escape plan required him to be in solitary confinement, but his earlier requests to be moved to that part of the prison had failed.

A body found in Bloemspruit dam still had the death register tag on it. The number on this tag was used to determine that Magudumana had claimed the body two weeks earlier.

Bester and Magudumana arrested

On Saturday, the South African government confirmed the arrest of Bester and Magudumana. The pair were arrested, with a Mozambican national, in Tanzania.

Justice and Correctional Service Minister Ronald Lamola said the Tanzanian government has already expressed their willingness to bring Bester and Magudumana to South Africa “as speedily as possible”.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said Bester and Magudumana were found with fake passports, which had not even been stamped by customs officials.

“How they moved around cannot be explained because it’s illegal… what we know at the present moment is they have several passports each and not a single one has been stamped as they were crossing [borders],” he said.

ALSO READ: Thabo Bester, Dr Nandipha’s deportation from Tanzania ‘doable’ – Lamola

The suspects were found 10 kilometres from the Kenyan border when they were apprehended. It is believed they were trying to get into Kenya next.

Additional reporting by Molefe Seeletsa

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