Thabo Bester: ‘Dr Nandipha said she was being held against her will’
The private plane carrying Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha from Arusha in Tanzania to SA landed at the Lanseria Airport early on Thursday morning.
Thabo Bester and Dr. Nandipha Magudumana arrived back in South Africa after their arrest in Tanzania. Photo: Twitter/@FaizelPatel143 – The Citizen
The Citizen can reveal that Nandipha Magudumana initially told Tanzanian authorities that she was being held against her will by convicted rapist and murderer Thabo Bester.
Bester, faked his own death with Magudumana’s help to facilitate an audacious break from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in May last year.
The pair have been on the run since photos of Bester and Magudumana shopping for free range chicken in a upmarket Joburg Woolworths, surfaced online earlier this year.
They were caught in Arusha on Wednesday and were extradited to South Africa on a private jet on Thursday morning.
Minister of Police Bheki Cele told Parliament the request to transport prisoners on a privately charted aircraft came at the behest of the Tanzanian government .
Back in SA
A South African delegation consisting of the Department of Justice and police officials had departed for the East African country on Sunday to bring the fugitives back to South Africa.
The duo were arrested in Tanzania, just 10km from the Kenyan border with several passports containing multiple identities – in their possession.
According to a Tanzanian source, Magudumana and Bester gave statements to Tanzanian authorities after their arrest.
“She was being held against her will by him. That was her response in her initial arrest questions, that’s what she said.”
The source however said it is unclear if Magudumana changed her statement after that.
Following their arrival in South Africa, Cele said Magudumana was “very cooperative”, but not Bester.
“We know that the good doctor (Magudumana) cooperated on the other side. We know that the good doctor’s customary husband (Bester) did not cooperate,” said Cele.
South African authorities wasted no time after the couple landed in South Africa, processing Bester to the Kgosi Mampuru II prison and drove Magudumana to the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court for her first appearance.
Bester under 24/7 guard
During a media briefing on Thursday after Bester and Magudumana’s arrival in South Africa, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) Commissioner Makgothi Thobakgale said the Facebook rapist would be under 24/7 guard – including who he is in contact with.
“High profile and high-risk offenders have been admitted to this section of the prison without incident. Obviously in that facility we have different sections, we chose to accommodate him at C-Max because we are also looking at the intensity of the security and the contact we need to manage around him, given the type of offender he is.” Thobakgale said.
Dr Nandipha case
Meanwhile, the case against the now disgraced Magudumana was postponed to 17 April for a possible bail application.
While she has not been formally charged yet, according to police, she will face charges of aiding and abetting an escape from prison, murder, violation of bodies and fraud.
During her court appearance, Dr Nandipha 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.
Bester escaped from the MCC 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 of rape and murder.
So far, five people, including Magudumana’s father, Zolile Cornelius Sekeleni and a former G4S prison warder, have been arrested in connection with the jailbreak.
Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe