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Fashion front from Thabo Bester as State expects additional arrests in connection with prison escape

Fashion front from Thabo Bester as State expects additional arrests in connection with prison escape
The parents of Katlego Bereng, the body of whom police believe was found in Thabo Bester’s prison cell burned beyond recognition, attend the court case. From left: Patricia Kopane (Action SA provincial chairperson), Monica Matsie (Katlego Bereng’s mother) and Batho Mpholo (Katlego Bereng’s father). (Photo: Becker Semela)

The case has been postponed again until August for further investigation.

The criminal trial of Thabo Bester and Nandipha Magudumana and their eight co-accused has been postponed to 8 August for further police investigation.

Prosecutor Sello Matlhoko told the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court on Tuesday that three more people are expected to be arrested. He said that statements still needed to be taken from two witnesses and police were still analysing cellphones and bank statements.

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

Bester, who escaped Mangaung prison on 3 May 2022, appeared via online link from Kgosi Mampuru prison. He wore a blue and white Louis Vuitton jersey (similar garments retail for at least $1,000 online).

Bester’s advocate Jeremiah Pela asked to be recused. Bester’s new advocate will be Kabelo Matee. Tsireldzo Ndou remains the instructing attorney.

Pela and Ndou are facing their own legal battles. Newzroom Afrika has reported that Ndou is facing charges of attempted rape and assault while Pela is facing corruption charges that date back to 2017.

The other accused in the matter are: Bester’s partner, Nandipha Magudumana; her father, Zolile Sekeleni; former Mangaung prison employees, Senohe Matsoara, Monteyani Masukela, Tieho Makhotsa and Nastassja Jansen; and Teboho Lipholo, a former employee of CCTV service provider Integriton Security Solutions. A ninth accused, Zanda Moyo, was added to the list last week.

Sekeleni’s representative, Themba Diba, asked that Sekeleni, who is out on bail, be excused from the next court appearance because he lives very far from the court. The state did not object, but Magistrate Mohlolo Khabisi rejected the request, saying that for practical reasons it would be difficult to compel Sekeleni to attend future appearances.

Jansen is also out on bail while the other accused remain in custody.

While the court hearing took place, a few former G4S employees marched to Mangaung Correctional Centre. The march was organised by former G4S employee Morui Mphou, who said the marchers wanted the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), as the custodians of the prison, to hold G4S management accountable for what happened.

They want the contract with G4S to be terminated quickly and the prison to be returned to the DCS. Mphou said that G4S had failed to take responsibility for its failures in the Thabo Bester matter and in other security incidents at the prison.

The group had prepared a memorandum to hand over to a DCS representative, but there was no one at the prison to receive it. DM

First published by GroundUp.


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