Thabo Bester is so scared for his life, he hasn’t eaten since re-arrest
Bester's case was postponed to 16 May 2023 for further investigations. He abandoned his bid to be released on bail.
Convicted rapist and murderer Thabo Bester during his appearance before the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on 14 April 2023. Picture: Twitter/ @Chriseldalewis
After months on the run and his subsequent high-profile return to South Africa on a private plane, convicted rapist and murderer Thabo Bester found himself back in the dock in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court.
Flanked by a heavy security detail, the escapee appeared in court on Friday facing additional charges including escaping from lawful custody, defeating the ends of justice, violation of a dead body, and fraud.
Bester fears for his life
During his court appearance, Bester’s lawyer revealed that the convict had not eaten since he was deported to South Africa on Thursday and kept in custody in the maximum-security section of Kgosi Mampuru II Prison in Pretoria.
He said this was because he feared for his life and wanted to be provided food by his own legal team he trusts because there was allegedly poison in his food.
“The accused hasn’t eaten since he was incarcerated. He is afraid to eat the food provided by this very same institution.
“The accused also requested that he be provided food preferably by this legal team, which he actually trusts to represent him… I just need to bring it to the court’s attention that the accused has raised concerns for his safety,” he said.
The lawyer also said Bester wanted to be furnished with his extradition documents, confirming he does not have a South African identity document (ID).
However, the state said the court could not interfere with matters of the Department of Correctional Services and that Bester should have dealt with the ID number issues in Tanzania.
Bester’s case was postponed to 16 May 2023, for further investigations. He abandoned his bid to be released on bail.
Bester was arrested in Tanzania with his so-called customary wife, disgraced doctor and mother of two, Nandipha Magudumana, and a third suspect last Friday. It is believed the trio were intending to flee into neighbouring Kenya.
Bester, dubbed the “Facebook rapist” owing to his modus operandi for using the social networking site to lure his victims, was convicted in 2012 for the rape and murder of his model girlfriend Nomfundo Tyhulu.
A year earlier, he was found guilty of raping and robbing two other women.
Magudumana court appearance
Magudumana, who appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Thursday afternoon, has been remanded in custody after making her first court appearance.
While she has not been formally charged yet, according to the NPA, she will face charges of aiding and abetting an escape from prison, murder, violation of bodies and fraud.
Magudumana was joined by Tebogo James Dipholo, an employee contracted to a company that installs CCTV cameras at the Mangaung Correctional Centre (MCC), where Bester escaped custody after faking his death.
The 44-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday. He allegedly manipulated the MCC’s cameras, for a fee, on the night and morning that the so-called Facebook rapist escaped from jail.
How the Bester blunder exposed rot in the justice system
In May last year, it was reported he had been found dead in his cell after apparently setting himself on fire in a single, isolated cell next to an emergency exit at the prison.
But, in August last year, a post-mortem revealed the remains did not match Bester’s DNA. This week in Parliament, Police Minister Bheki Cele told the parliamentary inquiry probing the escape that officials decided to hush up the escape for fear it could jeopordise search efforts.
But the committee wasn’t convinced saying the investigations were not only going anywhere, but tore into officials for failing to notify Bester’s victims that they “could run into him at Checkers”.
The committee also roasted officials for not investigating Magudumana who went to extraordinary lengths to retrieve the dead body, saying the state was preventing her from burying her husband, despite being legally married to another man, pediatric doctor, Mkhuseli Oscar Magudumana.
According to GroundUp, the Magudumana’s entered into a civil marriage in 2013, and they are still registered as such on the Home Affairs database.
Additional reporting by Narissa Subramoney.