By Daniel Steyn and Becker Semela, GroundUp
The bail application of the convicted murderer, Thabo Bester’s girlfriend, Nandipha Magudumana, was rejected in the magistrate’s court in Bloemfontein on Monday.
Magistrate Estelle de Lange found that Magudumana is a flight risk and if she is released on bail, “nothing will stand in her way” to help Bester escape from prison again.
Magudumana is facing charges related to Bester’s escape from prison in May last year. This includes assistance during an escape from custody, the violation of bodies and fraud.
Magudumana was arrested together with Bester in Tanzania in April this year and has been held in the Kroonstad prison since then.
She indicated in her bail application that she intends to stay with a friend in Sandton if she is released on bail. Magudumana also argued that she cannot flee the country because her passport was confiscated during her arrest.
Magudumana had earlier claimed that Bester kidnapped her against her will and took her to Tanzania.
However, the magistrate found in her judgment that there is little evidence to support this claim. De Lange said all available evidence indicates that Magudumana chose to leave her children and business behind in South Africa in March this year to flee the country with Bester.
Regarding the passport, De Lange said the evidence indicates that Magudumana does not really need a passport to leave the country. This is in reference to Magudumana and Bester’s arrest in Tanzania.
“They crossed several border posts without using her passport,” De Lange found.
De Lange decided no bail conditions would be sufficient to prevent Magudumana from committing similar crimes to those she is accused of.
“The suspect is facing charges of a serious nature – of dishonesty and fraud. She will probably be sentenced to a long prison term if she is found guilty of the crimes.”
According to De Lange, Magudumana looks “well cared for” during her court appearances and the court has not received any complaints about the conditions under which she is being held. The magistrate further ruled that it is not in the interest of justice to release Magudumana on bail.
Magudumana will appear in court again on 11 October together with her 11 co-accused.
In an affidavit submitted to the court during Magudumana’s bail application, the investigating officer, Lt. Col. Tieho Flyman, said that Magudumana and Bester were the “masterminds behind Bester’s escape”.
According to Flyman, Magudumana and Bester promised a prison guard, Senohe Matsoara, millions of rands if he would help with the escape. However, according to Flyman, he was only paid R85 000. Matsoara also recruited other officials to help with the escape.
Nine Mangaung Prison Center workers are currently facing charges in connection with Bester’s escape.
“Bester led authorities to believe that he had set himself on fire. He left behind a burnt body that was burnt beyond recognition in the cell before he escaped,” said Flyman.
Flyman told the court that according to the police investigation, Magudumana stayed in Bloemfontein in the days before the escape and fraudulently claimed a body from the state mortuary.
“She (Magudumana) claimed that the body was that of her father. A funeral was held and a coffin full of meat was buried.”
According to Flyman, the first attempt to escape was unsuccessful and the body was dumped in a river in Bloemfontein.
About a month later, Magudumana demanded a second body at a hospital in Bloemfontein, Flyman said. “This body was later identified as that of Katlego Bereng. Bereng’s body was smuggled into Bester’s prison cell and burned.
“Magudumana then claimed the burnt body, believed to be Bester at the time, from the state mortuary, claiming that she was Bester’s girlfriend. She arranged for the body to be taken to Johannesburg to be cremated. However, the police seized the body.”
Magudumana then approached the Pretoria High Court and said she was Bester’s common-law wife.
Flyman argued that Magudumana’s affidavit in the court case was fraudulent and that her legal representative, Vuyo Manisi, circulated a fraudulent court order and not the one given by the court.
- This post was originally published on GroundUp and is used with permission on RNews.