Nandipha Magudumana’s kidnapping claim questioned by state

Magudumana has “a right to liberty” until convicted, court told

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Dr Nandipha Magudumana with her father, Zolile Sekeleni, leaving the court. Photo: Becker Semela

Nandipha Magudumana’s bail application continued for a third day in the Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Among the charges Magudumana faces are fraud, corruption, and the violation of bodies relating to the escape of rapist and murderer Thabo Bester from prison in May 2022.

She was arrested in Tanzania, alongside Bester, in April 2023.

She previously told the court that Bester had taken her to Tanzania against her will, but the state has disputed Magudumana was kidnapped.

However, Magudumana’s lawyer, advocate Machini Motlaung, has argued the state has not been able to provide evidence that successfully rebuts her version of events.

In court on Monday, Motlaung said Magudumana’s right to liberty would be compromised if she was not released on bail. He said there was no indication when the criminal trial would proceed. Until she is convicted of the crimes, she must be presumed innocent, he said.

However, state prosecutor Sello Mathloko said because Magudumana is facing schedule 5 charges, the onus is on her to prove the interest of justice permits her to be released on bail.

Mathloko argued that Magudumana had not provided evidence to assure the court she should be released.

He also questioned the strength of Magudumana’s claim she was kidnapped by Bester. “They do not reveal where they met, how they met, or how he kidnapped her, at all. Is it by gunpoint, is it by knife? How was she kidnapped?… She is not taking the court into her confidence,” Mathloko said.

Mathloko pointed out that Magudumana did not open a kidnapping case against Bester.

Magudumana had claimed parental responsibility as a reason for release on bail, but, said Mathloko, “these are the children she left behind when she was ‘kidnapped’ and opted not to open a criminal case against the person”.

Mathloko said Magudumana’s May 2022 High Court application, in which she claimed to be Bester’s customary law wife, was proof she had no regard for the justice system. (Her founding affidavit in that application contained several falsehoods, including that Bester’s mother had died and his uncle was David Magugula. Bester’s real uncle has confirmed to police that David Magugula does not exist.)

The bail application was postponed until Monday, 11 September.

TOPICS:  Court Thabo Bester prison escape

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