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Recaptured ‘Facebook rapist’ Thabo Bester makes first court appearance

Recaptured ‘Facebook rapist’ Thabo Bester makes first court appearance
Thabo Bester at Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on 15 April 14, 2023 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frikkie Kapp)

Bester and his accomplice Nandipha Magudumana were extradited to South Africa from Tanzania on 13 April after being on the run for almost a year.

Recaptured in Tanzania and brought back to South Africa, convicted murderer and rapist Thabo Bester appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday. He was charged in connection with his escape from G4S-run Mangaung Correctional Centre on 3 May 2022.

The case was postponed until May so that the prosecution can complete its investigation.

A dishevelled Bester entered the courtroom flanked by heavily-armed police and Department of Correctional Services officials.

After he sat down he briefly showed an emotional face with tears in his eyes. He bowed his head but then lifted it up later to face the court and the cameras during the proceedings.

Thabo Bester

Thabo Bester at Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on 14 April, 2023 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. The convicted murderer and rapist escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre on 3 May 2022. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frikkie Kapp)

State prosecutor Sello Mathloko explained that bail was not an issue because Bester is already a prisoner serving a life sentence.

Bester’s lawyer Marvin Carpede requested that the case be sped up because his client has already been sentenced.

He also said that since Bester landed in the country he has not eaten anything because he fears being poisoned.

Carpede also added that his client’s identity documentation was incorrect and this needed to be resolved. Daily Maverick reported on a briefing by Minister of Home Affairs Dr Aaron Motsoaledi earlier on Friday. There the minister revealed that Bester’s birth in Johannesburg had not been registered and that he had never been formally documented by Motsoaledi’s department.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘He simply didn’t exist’ — Aaron Motsoaledi explains how Thabo Bester slipped through Home Affairs cracks

Mathloko said it was their aim for the case to be settled as quickly as possible but not in the way Carpede had requested.

“We cannot settle the case within a month,” Mathloko told the court.

On the matters of Bester not eating and his incorrect identity documentation Magistrate Mohlolo Kgabisi told Carpede to take the matter to the Departments of Correctional Services and Home Affairs.

A return date of 16 May was then agreed upon by both the prosecution and defence.

Thabo Bester

Thabo Bester at Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on 14 April, 2023 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frikkie Kapp)

Read more in Daily Maverick: Damning timeline — Government knew of Thabo Bester escape as early as October 2022 but failed to act

The court heard that Bester will not appear on Monday with the others accused of assisting his escape, namely Dr Nandipha Magudumana; her father, Zolile Sekeleni; former G4s security guard Senohe Matsoara; and camera technician Teboho Lipholo.

Sekeleni and Matsoara briefly appeared before the same court on Tuesday while Magudumana and Lipholo appeared on Thursday. DM

First published by GroundUp.

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