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South Africa: State Rubbishes Magudumana’s Claim That Thabo Bester Kidnapped Her

State opposes bail

  • Nandipha Magudumana told the Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday during her bail hearing that she had been kidnapped by Thabo Bester and taken to Tanzania against her will.
  • The state disputed this claim. According to the state, Magudumana actively participated in Bester’s escape.
  • The state opposed bail. An investigating officer said Magudumana had “substantial incentive to evade trial”.

Nandipha Magudumana told the Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday that she had been forced to flee South Africa by escaped convict Thabo Bester.

Magudumana, who faces charges related to Bester’s escape from prison in May 2022, is applying for bail. She was arrested in Tanzania alongside Bester on 7 April 2023 and has been in custody at Bizzah Makhate prison since 13 April.

In an affidavit, read in court by her lawyer Advocate Frans Dlamini, Magudumana said that on 17 March 2023, she “was instructed and commanded” by Bester to enter a vehicle and drive to an unknown location.

“I refused, but he forced me into the vehicle. I succumbed to the pressure due to the threats he directed at me,” Magudumana said in her affidavit.

She told the court that she was earning R50,000 a month at the time of her arrest, that she had assets worth R1-million, and that she would be able to afford bail of R10,000.

But in a replying affidavit, Inspecting Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Tieho Flyman said he disputed the allegation that she was kidnapped by Bester.

Flyman said that Magudumana had driven herself to fetch Bester from KwaZulu-Natal after his escape, that they had stayed together in a rented house, that both Magudumana and Bester were signatories to the lease agreement for that house, and that the couple had travelled together and stayed together in the months following the escape.

He asked why Magudumana had not opened a kidnapping case against Bester while in prison. He also made mention of Magudumana’s behaviour at her previous court appearance with Bester, during which the pair were photographed smiling at each other and holding hands.

“Looking at how the applicant is involved, and the role played in the escape, there is no piece of evidence that she was at any stage forced or threatened in any manner,” said Flyman.

Flyman told the court that according to police investigations, Magudumana stayed in Bloemfontein in the days leading up to the escape and fraudulently claimed two bodies from government mortuaries. One of the bodies was set alight in Bester’s prison cell while the other was dumped in a river in Bloemfontein.

As prosecutor Sello Mathloko read out Flyman’s affidavit, Magudumana, sitting in the dock, shook her head.

“Substantial incentive to evade her trial”

Magudumana told the court that she should be granted bail. She said that she intended to plead not guilty to the charges against her which include assisting an escape from custody, violating bodies, and fraud.

She said she had no interest in leaving the country and had no travel documents, as her passport is still in the police’s possession.

She said that if released on bail, she would stay with a friend in Sandton. She said that she is the parent of two minor children, and responsible for their care. She said she would not attempt to evade trial or interfere with state witnesses.

But Flyman, in his affidavit, said that Magudumana had “substantial incentive to evade her trial”. He said that in addition to the long-term imprisonment she is facing in terms of the escape charges, she 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 that Magudumana had fled the country with Bester in March, indicating that she is a flight risk.

She had “deliberately evaded 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 interdicted from harassing her, he said.

Flyman said that Magudumana had lied in those court papers and that her attorney had created a “prima facie false” court order that the body found in Bester’s cell be released to Magudumana.

Flyman said her children are being looked after by Magudumana’s husband and have not visited her in prison since her incarceration. He said phone records from the prison reveal that she has only called her husband once.

The bail application will continue on Wednesday, 30 August.

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