Thabo Bester saga: State expects three more people to be arrested

Case postponed again for further investigation

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The parents of Katlego Bereng, the man who police believe was found in 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 criminal trial of Thabo Bester and eight others has been postponed for further police investigations.
  • The state says three more people are likely to be arrested.
  • The nine people in the dock face a total of 16 charges relating to Bester’s escape from prison.

The criminal trial of Thabo Bester and Nandipha Magudumana and their seven 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.

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 US$1,000 online).

Bester’s advocate Jeremiah Pela asked that he and Tsireldzo Ndouto be recused. Bester’s new advocate will be Kabelo Matee.

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.

TOPICS:  Crime Thabo Bester prison escape

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