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Thabo Bester escape — alleged conspirators apply for bail

Thabo Bester escape — alleged conspirators apply for bail
Dr Nandipha Magudumana with co-accused Buti Masukela (right) and Teboho Lipholo (left) appear for a bail application at the Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court on 11 May 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frikkie Kapp)

Bester’s partner, Nandipha Magudumana, withdrew her application in light of ‘new information’.

Six of the eight accused in the Thabo Bester saga appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court on Thursday for their formal bail application.

Bester’s partner Nandipha Magudumana withdrew her bail application at the start of Thursday’s proceedings due to “new information” that has come to light. Magudumana and her legal team were then excused from the courtroom. She will return to the court on 16 May, alongside Bester and her father, Zolile Sekeleni.

Remaining in the dock were former Mangaung Correctional Centre employees Senohe Matsoara, Monteyani Masukela, Tieho Makhotsa and Nastassja Jansen; and Teboho Lipholo, a former employee of CCTV service provider Integritron Security Solutions.

By order of the chief magistrate, the live recording of parts of the bail application was prohibited, including the testimony of witnesses and cross-examination.

After the cameras were switched off, the legal representatives of the accused read out affidavits written by the accused.

thabo bester

Senohe Matsoara and Teboho Lipholo in the dock at the Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court on Thursday. (Photo: Becker Semela)

Matsoara told the court that his Volkswagen T-Roc car had been funded by a loan from Standard Bank and he had not made a down payment. It has been suggested that he bought the car — which retails at about R650,000 — with money paid to him by Bester for orchestrating the escape.

Lipholo, a CCTV technician who was on duty on the day of a fire in Bester’s prison cell, after which a body said to be Bester’s was found, said he intended to plead not guilty. He is alleged to have tampered with the CCTV cameras at the prison and to have accepted a bribe. He told the court that he had fallen ill with the flu because he did not have enough blankets in his cell. He indicated his family would be able to pay R5,000 for his bail.

Masukela, who is still employed by the prison, said he would plead not guilty. He told the court he has “uncontrollable diabetes” and he would be able to pay R3,000 bail.

Makhotsa, a dismissed prison warden who worked in the control room and controlled CCTV cameras at the prison, said that he is challenging his dismissal from the prison and that he has been supporting his family with “piece jobs and gambling”.

Jansen, also a control room official, said she will plead not guilty and that she lives in a family’s backyard with her two children. She also indicated that she is challenging her dismissal from the prison.

The State then called investigating officer Lieutenant-Colonel Tieho Jobo Flyman to the stand. Flyman revealed that Lipholo had provided information to the police about the escape. He had contacted the police with information because he had feared for his life.

The bail hearing continues on Friday. DM

First published by GroundUp.

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