AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Alleged accomplices to Thabo Bester prison break appear in court
The father of Dr Nandipha Magudumana, the partner of Bester — the convicted rapist who escaped from a maximum prison — appeared briefly in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
Zolile Cornelius Sikelele (65) appeared in court alongside correctional services officer Senohe Ishmael Motsoara (39) on four charges: aiding escapees, defeating the administration of justice, arson and murder. The state alleges that Matsoara on 3 May 2022 set fire to and destroyed Thabo Bester’s prison cell on the day of Bester’s escape.
Motsoara and his co-accused face a murder charge in connection with the death of an unknown male, whose body was discovered burnt beyond recognition in Bester’s cell on the day of the fire.
Convicted rapist and murderer Bester — dubbed the Facebook rapist — escaped Mangaung Correctional Centre, run by security company G4S, after which it is alleged that the unidentified male body was transported to the cell and set alight.
Dr Nandipha Magudumana and Bester became criminal internet sensations overnight when GroundUp broke the story that Bester — initially believed to have died in the Mangaung prison fire — was still alive.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Govt ‘embarrassed’ by Thabo Bester escape as control of Mangaung prison taken from G4S clutches
The couple had been hiding out in a mansion in Sandton before abandoning the premises when the story broke of Bester’s daring and elaborate escape. Magudumana and Bester were arrested in Tanzania this past weekend.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Thabo Bester and Nandipha Magudumana arrested in Tanzania
The case was postponed to 17 April for a formal bail application. State prosecutor Sello Matlhoko said, after a discussion with defence lawyers, that it was agreed the accused will be detained in Brandfort Correctional Centre. This is because Matsoara had served as a correctional services officer at Mangaung Correctional Centre.
Sikelele and Motsoara will remain in custody until their next appearance. DM