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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

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

Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana had multiple unstamped documents and headed for Kenya when they were finally arrested in Tanzania

Convicted rapist and murderer Thabo Bester and his girlfriend, Dr Nandipha Magudumana, were arrested in Tanzania with several passports – with multiple identities – in their possession.

This was confirmed by Police Minister Bheki Cele during a press briefing in Pretoria on Saturday where he shed more light on the couple’s dramatic arrest.


Bester, dubbed the “Facebook rapist”, was arrested on Friday night in the East African country alongside Magudumana and Mozambican national Zakaria Alberto who was “assisting” them.

Cele said the suspects were captured in the Tanzanian city of Arusha with “multiple passports in their possession”.

“None of the passports were stamped,” he said.

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


According to a highly-placed source, The Citizen can reveal that Bester was found with documents that identified him as Tommy William Kelly, an American citizen, while Magudumana assumed the name Martha Patience Mmerika Nitshini.

The source shared some of the other pseudonyms that Bester was reportedly travelling under:

  • Thabo Bester
  • Mzali Jabuiabu
  • Thomas Magagula
  • Katlego Nkwana
  • Tom Rufus Reddy
  • Piet Timothy
  • Kelly Johnstone
  • Thomas Bester
  • TK Nkwana
  • Rufus Mahopo
  • Tom Bester
  • Thomas Kell Young
  • Thabo Magagula
  • William Kelly
  • Tom Motsepe
  • Thabo Tom Bester
  • Kelly Young
  • Tom Kelly
  • Thomas Kelly Bester

Travel timeline

The source also shared the countries that Bester and Magudumana travelled through before being arrested.

“They travelled from Johannesburg to Bulawayo, to Zambia and then to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and Arusha.”

Cele said the three were arrested in Arusha, near the Kenyan border, as they attempted to leave the country.

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

He said authorities stopped the black SUV the fugitives were travelling in after it left a hotel.

“They have not [just] one passport per person. They have several, and all of them are not stamped, but in particular their entrance to Tanzania is not stamped. So, we cannot know which border [from South Africa they escaped through]… Those details are not in the passport,” Cele said.

“We are told they were 10km from Kenya, [planning] to move from Tanzania to Kenya. So, it does look like they were headed to the next country.”

Bringing Bester and Magudumana home

Justice and Correctional Service Minister, Ronald Lamola, said a South African delegation consisting of the Department of Justice and police officials will depart for the East African country on Sunday.

“They will be received and assisted by the office of the high commissioner in Tanzania who is representing South Africa. We are confident that we will receive maximum cooperation from our sister nation to assist us to bring these fugitives to justice and also serve their sentence, particularly the gentleman, Mr Thabo Bester.

“The level of cooperation we have received thus far from the Tanzanian authorities has been exemplary before and after the arrest,” the minister said.

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

Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) spokesperson Clayson Monyela on Saturday said there was no need for an extradition process to get the fugitives back, as they had entered the country illegally, in which case immigration laws applies.

Prison escape

Bester escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein in May 2022 after it was initially believed he had committed suicide by setting himself alight in his cell.

However, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), which originally declared him dead, confirmed that the charred body found in his cell was not that of Bester who was convicted in 2012.

Bester had in fact been alive and at large for the last nine months.

Murder case

Police have since 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, therefore, was already dead prior to the arson incident.

A case of escape from lawful custody was also registered with the police.

Additional reporting by: Molefe Seeletsa

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