Thabo Bester and Nandipha Magudumana arrested in Tanzania
The couple had several passports in their possession with different names.
In a hastily arranged press conference, often incoherent and with few details provided, the Ministers of Justice and Police confirmed on Saturday that Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana were arrested in Tanzania on Friday night.
Bester and Magudumana were arrested along with a Mozambican national who was assisting them. They were found in possession of several passports, with different names, and none of the passports had been stamped.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said that Tanzanian police had followed the fugitives as they were leaving their hotel in a black SUV. It is believed that they were on their way to crossing the Tanzanian border, presumably into Kenya.
They were found in the Arusha region of Tanzania, which is close to the Kenyan border.
“We have confirmed with all relevant authorities in Tanzania that the fugitives are being processed in the Tanzanian justice system,” said Justice Minister Ronald Lamola. “We are confident that we will receive maximum cooperation from our sister country Tanzania.”
Lamola said it is likely that Bester and Magudumana will be deported to South Africa as they are in Tanzania illegally. Delegates from the South African police and Department of Correctional Service will depart for Tanzania on Sunday.
Bester escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre on 3 May 2022 after faking his death in a cell fire. The burnt corpse found in the cell was collected by Magudumana, but it was later confiscated by police.
Magudumana then approached the Pretoria High Court, asking for the corpse to be returned to her and claiming to be Bester’s customary law wife. Court papers filed by the South African Police Service revealed that there was no DNA match between the corpse and Bester’s biological mother, therefore, the body found in the cell was not Thabo Bester.
After escaping from prison, Bester lived with Magudumana in a rented mansion in Sandton. Bester used an ID document and driver’s licence under the name “Katlego Nkwana”. The couple operated Arum Properties together, scamming several people into paying millions for construction projects that were never completed.
The property manager of the rented mansion told GroundUp that Magudumana was behind on the rent. Days after GroundUp first reported that Bester had escaped, the mansion was vacated. It was raided by police two weeks later, on 4 April.
The Citizen published a video this week of Magudumana being confronted by a private investigator in January this year. The investigator challenges Magudumana about a R1.35-million Mercedes-Benz she allegedly drove across the Zimbabwean border after failing to meet repayment obligations. DM
First published by GroundUp.