Nandipha and Thabo: Was it love or extreme infatuation?

What could possibly convince a highly-educated, married woman to risk her life, her career and her family’s well-being for a convicted criminal?

Nandipha Magudumana was a wife, a mother, a trusted health practitioner, a sister and a daughter.

But for some reason, this 33-year-old’s life took a shocking turn that saw her betray and endanger almost everyone close to her in these roles.

This was apparent when she was seen in Woolworths with Thabo Bester, also known as the ‘Facebook rapist’. He was seen with both her and her minor daughter.

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

Bester was convicted of the rape and murder of his former girlfriend in 2012. In 2011, he was found guilty of raping and robbing two other women.

There has also been reports around his alleged defrauding of YoTV (though what this means exactly, hasn’t been established yet) at the age of 17 and served time as a juvie.

Then there’s squeaky clean Nandipha. Born in the Eastern Cape, and raised by her mother in Port Edward, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).


Nandipha went to Port Edward Primary School and completed her school education at Port Shepstone High School.

She then went on to study medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand.

She graduated with a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree (BHSc) in Biomedical Sciences and a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB).

This bright-eyed beauty eventually reached her dream of becoming a medical doctor, surgeon, entrepreneur, as well as founder and CEO of Optimum Medical Solutions.

So what went wrong?

According to reports, she met Bester in 2006, while she was studying at Wits. It is believed that Bester at the time had been running a model agency and she worked for him as a promo girl.

But nothing materialised from their meeting all those years ago. In fact, Nandipha went on to marry another doctor, Dr Mkhuseli Magudumana, who is a paediatrician based in Johannesburg’s East Rand.

Relations with Bester

Here’s where it gets bizarre. Nandipha had no public relationship with Bester prior to his convictions – at least nothing that anyone close to her knew of. But it is believed she might have been seeing him in secret.

It was only in 2017, after his conviction of rape, that there was evidence of her reaching out to him in prison and visiting him while he was there.

This was when it all started to go downhill for her. According to Kaya959, in 2020 Nandipha announced that she was engaged to Bester – even though she was still married to Mkhuseli.

Then, in 2021, she had her licence to practice as a doctor suspended because she had apparently failed to pay her annual fees.

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

Last year, the media reported that Bester had died in a fire in his cell. Nandipha claiming to be his customary wife (while still legally married to Mkhuseli), identified the body as his and then went to great lengths to claim the body – even going to the high court to request that the body be returned to her after it was confiscated.

It is believed after helping Bester to escape, she took him to her Hyde Park mansion – where her family had been living at the time – asking them to leave so that she and Bester could hide out there.

It was in June 2022, a month after his fake death, that someone spotted him shopping in Woolworths in Sandton. The person took a picture and posted it on social media.

That’s when it was established that Bester had faked his death and escaped prison – not without the help of a number of individuals, including Nandipha.

But why, Nandipha?

The question on everyone’s minds is: Why would she go to such great lengths to help a convicted criminal?

According to Robyn McKay, PhD psychologist and co-author of Smart Girls in the 21st Century, women are naturally attracted to ‘bad boys’ for the hypermasculine sense they give off. She said that men who exhibit highly masculine characteristics might possess genes of superior quality, making them potentially appealing to women at an instinctual evolutionary level.

She also explained that girls possess a range of traits, like rebelliousness, and these traits are typically repressed during childhood, as females are socialised to be compliant and agreeable. If a girl’s inner life is unexpressed, she may be drawn to a bad boy as a way of vicariously expressing her own inner rebel.

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

Sociologist and clinical sexologist Sarah Melancon, also based in the US, says that we tend to be drawn to qualities in other people that we desire for ourselves.

“For instance, a person who is considered to be a “good girl” may admire the freedom that a “bad boy” exhibits. Despite knowing that this trait may make the bad boy an unsuitable partner in the long run, the attraction to this quality can be so intense that it seems worth the potential emotional pain that may come with it,” she said.

This is a plausible explanation for Nandipha’s initial attraction to bad boy Bester. She likely saw his dark triad personality (the term “dark triad” refers to a trio of negative personality traits—narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) as a symbol of freedom – a freedom she probably longed for.

Dangerous infatuation

As such, she likely projected qualities unto him that where not entirely realistic to his character. This was probably where an infatuation set in, that drove her to go to the ends of the earth to protect him from the dire consequences of his own actions, even if it meant risking the lives of her family, including her minor children.

Why else would a mother miss her daughter’s birthday to try help a criminal escape?

According to, infatuation is inherently based on psychological projection, which springs from a false set of beliefs one may ascribe to the object of one’s infatuation.

Infatuation is said to alter a person’s ability to reason rationally. In the throes of that glittering infatuation, it is nearly impossible for the infatuated to see clearly. “It can be difficult to recognise red flags at the beginning of the relationship when we are so deeply infatuated with the other person.

ALSO READ: Thabo Bester and Dr. Nandipha Magudumana arrested in Tanzania

“And even if we do see these warning signs in the other person, we would find it unusually hard to believe that these were reasons enough to forfeit such a positive and reinforcing feeling,” a wellness website, warns.

It is likely Nandipha could have gone to the great lengths she went to while reasoning through a chemical imbalance brought about by her infatuation. And we can almost guarantee she won’t be the last woman to do so.

South Africans will remember the Lotter trial in 2011 where Nicolette Lotter, obsessed with her then-boyfriend, Mathew Naidoo, went as far as killing her own parents at his instructions.

Read more on these topics

medicine Murder Rape Thabo Bester