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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Thabo Bester and Nandipha Magudumana’s luxury getaways

Before his escape, Thabo Bester spent several nights with his girlfriend Dr Nandipha Magudumana in a luxury hotel 25km from the MCC

As convicted murderer and rapist Thabo Bester languishes in the Kgosi Mampuru II correctional facility in Pretoria, reports have revealed that he and his girlfriend Dr Nandipha Magudumana enjoyed luxury getaways at a hotel in Bloemfontein just weeks before his escape.

Bester and Magudumana arrived back in South Africa on Thursday.

The Facebook rapist faked his own death with Magudumana’s help to facilitate the prison escape from the Mangaung Correctional Centre (MCC) in the Free State.

Luxury stays

According to a report by The Sunday Times, the couple stayed at the Tredenham Boutique Hotel, just 25km away from the MCC in March and again in April using one of Bester’s aliases, TK Nkwana.

The Citizen last week revealed that Bester was travelling under at least 19 aliases when he brazenly escaped from the MCC, one of which was TK Nkwana.

The Sunday Times report also revealed that an invoice from the hotel, showed Bester and Magudumana stayed for four nights at the hotel checking in on Thursday, March 24 2022 and out on Monday, March 28.

ALSO READ: Thabo Bester: ‘No threats to his life and Bester taking meals’ – DCS

Online booking

However, the hotel’s owner said their booking system showed the couple had stayed a further night, checking out on Tuesday, March 29 and were back were two weeks later, checking in for one night on Wednesday, April 13.

Hotel owner Gavin Jacobson confirmed the authenticity of the invoice saying the reservations were made online through the platform booking.com.

“We have extensively questioned the staff, and no-one could recall any details around the guest(s) and if Dr Nandipha Magudumana was accompanied by anyone.”

Thabo Bester’s hotel bill from the Tredenham Boutique Hotel, just 25km away from the MCC. Image: Sunday Times

However, several staff confirmed Bester had stayed there with Magudumana but did not know who they were at the time until police came to question management.

Correctional services spokesperson Singabako Nxumalo, responding to questions told the paper: “There are no day nor weekend passes allowed at Mangaung Correctional Centre.

ALSO READ: Thabo Bester: ‘Dr Nandipha said she was being held against her will’

G4S grilled

Last week, senior officials from G4S the company responsible for managing the Bloemfontein prison where Bester served his sentence appeared before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services were grilled by irate MP’s who wanted to get answers about how Bester escaped from the MCC.

Mangaung Correctional Centre (MCC) head Joseph Monyante In the two-day Parliamentary inquiry revealed that among the possessions discovered by police in Bester’s torched cell was an authorised laptop and an unauthorised cellphone.

A day later, prison staff “raised concerns in respect of a smell of petrol emanating from the deceased’s possessions”.

Bester’s personal laptop

African National Congress (ANC) MP Xola Nqola said allowing Bester to have a personal laptop may have enabled him to commit crime while in prison.

Nqola claimed that there are reports that Bester was running a multi-million-rand company from his cell and asked what the purpose was of Bester’s authorised laptop.

Cobus Groenewoud, the G4S regional director, told the committee that inmate were allowed laptops.

“Inmates who are registered students have the right…they have the right if they are registered with a formal institution of learning to have access to a laptop and for that reason inmate Bester had access to that laptop,” said Groenewoud.

Court appearances

Bester appeared in the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court on Friday after he and Magudumana were deported to South Africa on Thursday from Tanzania after they were arrested last week near Arusha en route to Kenya.

Bester was remanded in custody until May 16 while Magudumana appeared in court on Thursday on charges of murder, fraud and aiding and abetting Bester in his escape.

The murder and fraud charges relate to the body that was smuggled into the prison and set alight to help Bester escape.

Magudumana is expected back in the dock on Monday 17 April.

ALSO READ: Dr Pashy questioned about Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana

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