By Daniel Steyn and Becker Semela, GroundUp
The convicted murderer, Thabo Bester’s girlfriend, Dr. Nandipha Magudumana, during her bail application in the magistrate’s court in Bloemfontein, said in tears on Tuesday that Bester kidnapped her and took her to Tanzania against her will.
However, the state contested her statement and argued that Magudumana actively participated in Bester’s escape. The state has indicated that they oppose her bail.
Magudumana, who is facing charges related to Bester’s escape from prison in May 2022, is currently applying for bail. She was arrested in Tanzania together with Bester on April 7 this year and has been in custody at the Bizzah Makhate prison in Kroonstad in the Free State since April 13.
In an affidavit, read out by her legal representative, adv. Frans Dlamini, Magudumana said that on March 17 this year she was “instructed and ordered” by Bester to get into a vehicle and drive to an unknown location.
“I refused, but he forced me into the vehicle. I succumbed to the pressure because of the threats he made to me,” Magudumana said in her affidavit.
She told the court that at the time of her arrest she was earning R50 000 per month and that she had assets worth R1 million. She indicated that she would be able to afford bail of R10 000.
The investigating officer in the case, Lt. Col. Tieho Flyman, however, said he disputes the claim that she was abducted by Bester.
According to Flyman, Magudumana himself drove to pick up Bester in KwaZulu-Natal after his escape, that they stayed together in a rented house, that both Magudumana and Bester signed the rental agreement for that house and that the couple traveled and stayed together in the months after the escape.
Flyman asked why Magudumana did not open a kidnapping case against Bester while he was in prison. He also mentioned Magudumana’s behavior during her previous court appearance (on 8 August) with Bester, during which the two were very mean to each other.
“If you look at how the applicant is involved, and the role that was played in the escape, there is no evidence that she was forced at any stage or threatened in any way,” argued Flyman.
Flyman told the court that, according to police investigations, Magudumana stayed in Bloemfontein in the days before the escape and fraudulently claimed two bodies from state mortuaries. One of the bodies was set on fire in Bester’s prison cell while the other was dumped in a river in Bloemfontein.
As state prosecutor Sello Matlhoko read out Flyman’s affidavit, Magudumana, who was sitting in the dock, shook her head.
‘An attempt to evade trial’
Magudumana told the court that she should be granted bail. She said she plans to plead not guilty to the charges against her, which include aiding and abetting an escape from custody, desecration of bodies and fraud.
She said she was not interested in leaving the country and that she had no travel documents as her passport was still in the possession of the police.
She said if she was released on bail, she would stay with a friend in Sandton. She argued that she is the parent of two minor children and takes care of them. She said she would not try to avoid her trial or interfere with state witnesses.
But Flyman said in his affidavit that Magudumana had “substantial incentive to evade her trial”. He said in addition to the long-term prison sentence she faces on the escape charges, she also faces at least six criminal cases brought against her by members of the public. These cases relate to fraud of between R150 000 and R15 million.
Flyman said Magudumana fled the country with Bester in March, suggesting she is a flight risk.
She “deliberately evaded” the police when she sought an order from the Pretoria High Court in May 2022 that the body found in Bester’s cell be returned to her and that the police be prohibited from harassing her, he said.
Flyman said that Magudumana lied in those court documents and that her attorney created a false prima facie court order that the body found in Bester’s cell be released to Magudumana.
Flyman said her children are being cared for by Magudumana’s husband and they have not visited her at all since she has been in prison. He said prison phone records show she has called her husband only once.
The bail application will continue on Wednesday.
- This post was originally published on GroundUp and is used with permission on RNews.