Thabo Bester escape: alleged conspirators apply for bail

Nandipha Magudumana withdrew her application in light of “new information”

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

  • The formal bail hearing for four prison officials and a CCTV technician took place on Thursday.
  • Some of the accused claimed they were unable to support their families while behind bars.
  • The media has been prohibited from live-streaming witness testimonies and cross-examination.

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 Thabo Bester and her father, Zolile Sekeleni.

Remaining in the dock were former Mangaung prison 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 has been 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.

Matsoara told the court that his Volkswagen T-Roc car had been funded with 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 the fire after which a body said to be Bester’s was found, said he intends 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 a bond of R5,000 for his bail.

Masukela, who is still employed by the prison, said he would plead not guilty. He told the court that he has “uncontrollable diabetes” and that 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 currently 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 will continue on Friday.

TOPICS:  Thabo Bester prison escape

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