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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Thabo Bester and Nandipha Magudumana: Timeline of SA’s ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ saga

The story of Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana has gripped the country from the day the fugitives were photographed at a Woolies store.

The story of convicted rapist and murderer Thabo Bester and doctor Nandipha Magudumana has gripped the country from the day the fugitives were photographed at a Woolies store by an unidentified person.

The Facebook rapist and the good doctor, now known as the “Bonnie and Clyde” of South Africa, have since been brought back to the country after being caught in Tanzania last Friday.

Bester was on the run since his escape from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in May last year where he was serving a life sentence for murder and rape.

At the time, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), however, announced Bester had died in a prison fire.

In case you missed the story filled with intrigue, suspense and of course twists and turns, The Citizen has compiled a summary of the events that led up to the day that South Africa’s own Bonnie and Clyde arrived back into the country in the early hours of Thursday morning.

ALSO READ: Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana back in SA

17 March 2023

Photographs emerge of a man who closely resemble Bester shopping at a Woolworths in Sandton City nearly two months after his reported death in prison. The photograph shows him with long hair, wearing a tracksuit and sunglasses.

The photographs, taken on 30 June 2022, add to the mystery surrounding Bester’s reported death.

But several elements suggest that he may have escaped from prison and that the body found after the fire may be that of another man.

Police Minister Bheki Cele says DNA of the body found in a prison cell “doesn’t seem to match” that of Facebook rapist, Thabo Bester.

25 March

An investigation by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) reveals the charred body found after a fire broke out at the Free State’s Mangaung private prison is not of Bester.

The department says all evidence indicate that Bester escaped from jail on 3 May 2022, and a manhunt is launched to search for him.

27 March

Police announce that a case of murder has been opened after it emerged that the man dubbed the “Facebook rapist” Thabo Bester may have allegedly killed someone during his brazen escape from prison.

31 March

Department of Correctional Services National Commissioner, Makgothi Thobakgale, concede that the boss of the contractor G4S has lost control of the Mangaung prison following Bester’s escape.

As law enforcement agencies hunt down Bester, a private security company, Fidelity ADT, offers a R100 000 cash reward for information that leads to the arrest of the convicted criminal.

2 April

Reports reveal Bester’s partner, Dr Nandipha Magudumana, went to extraordinary lengths to obtain the stand-in corpse from a state morgue in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, that was initially believed to be that of Bester.

According to the report, Dr Nandipha sought a court order in her capacity as Bester’s “customary wife” in order to bury the body. The celebrity aesthetics doctor apparently cited her “traditional and cultural obligations” to bury the corpse.

4 April

The South African Police Service raid Bester’s last known residence in Hyde Park. This happens weeks after he reportedly vacated the luxury mansion due to non-payment of rent.

5 April

As police continue the search for Bester, explosive new details point to a plan to skip the country via the Zimbabwean border.

Video footage obtained by The Citizen shows Nandipha admitting to defaulting on a luxury car when confronted by a private investigator who traced it to a neighbouring country.

The footage was taken before it emerged that Bester had escaped from prison.

6 April

Police Minister Bheki Cele assures South Africans that police are getting “very close” to catching Bester.

Asked if he could confirm if Bester was in Tanzania, Cele says: “Not me, maybe the home affairs and Acsa can confirm that one.”

8 April

As South Africa’s most wanted couple remains on the run, the spotlight shifts to Bester’s girlfriend and accomplice, Dr Nandipha after a heated WhatsApp conversation over a missing luxury car emerged.

The conversation between a private investigator and an alleged legal representative of Dr Nandipha was around payments for the mystery Mercedes-Benz which made headlines after it was found abandoned across the border in Zimbabwe.

8 April continued

The Citizen receives reports that Bester and Dr Nandipha have been arrested in Tanzania.

According to a source, Bester, dubbed the ‘Facebook rapist’, was arrested last Friday.

“Tanzanian police were alerted of individuals fitting the description of the fugitives and they were then apprehended on Friday.”

9 April

Police question Dr Nandipha’s dad in the Bester prison break investigation. A few days later, he is officially charged with murder and appears in court.

Police announce more arrests, including G4S employees.

10 April

A South African delegation consisting of the Department of Justice and police officials depart for the East African country.

The Citizen reveals that Dr. Nandipha knew Dr Mmereka Patience Martha Ntshani, the name she assumed when she was arrested with her boyfriend – convicted rapist and murderer Thabo Bester – in Tanzania.

Questions are raised about the relationship between Dr Nandipha and Ntshani. Also known as Dr Pashy, Ntshani is an anaesthetist based in Pretoria.

The Dr Pashy Foundation denies the organisation and its founder Dr Mmereka Patience Martha Ntshani received any funding from Dr Nandipha.

The foundation announces it is seeking legal advice following reports that her identity was stolen by Dr Nandipha.

11 April

G4S accounts to Parliament over Bester’s escape, and more details emerge of how he got out.

The security company insists Mangaung is “one of most secure” SA prisons, despite Bester blunders.

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) announces it is conducting its own investigation into allegation against Dr Nandipha Magudumana.

The Citizen reliably learns that Dr Pashy was at a police station in Pretoria to open a case against Dr Nandipha for allegedly stealing her identity.

The Citizen also reveals that Dr Nandipha was allegedly found in possession of two original passports in the name of Dr Pashy during her arrest.

12 April

Police confirm that a 44-year-old employee contracted to a company that installs CCTV cameras at the Mangaung Correctional Centre (MCC) where Bester escaped from, has been arrested while another who was allegedly driving Dr Nandipha’s car is in custody and being questioned by authorities.

13 April

Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana arrive back in South Africa.

It is understood the plane carrying the pair from Arusha in Tazania to South Africa landed at the Lanseria Airport in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Bester is readmitted into the Kgosi Mampuru Central Maximum correctional facility, where highly trained officers will be guarding him 24 hours a day.

Dr Nandipha is taken to Bloemfontein, where she appeared in the Magistrate’s Court charged with aiding and abetting escape, murder due to a number of bodies found, violation of bodies and fraud.

During her court appearance, Dr Nandipha is 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 matter is postponed for bail information and a possible bail application.

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

More details

For more details on the these and other stories, check out The Citizen’s website.

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