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How Nandipha Magudumana has gone from celebrated aesthetics doctor to fighting for bail

Dr Nandipha Magudumana appearing virtually in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Screenshot/SABC

Dr Nandipha Magudumana appearing virtually in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Screenshot/SABC

Published Sep 2, 2023


Dr Nandipha Magudumana was once hailed as “a woman you need to know” in 2019 by Glamour Magazine, but this week, the pioneering medical aesthetics practitioner cut a forlorn figure as she sat in the dock at the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court in her bid for bail.

Magudumana and her lover, Facebook rapist Thabo Bester, made headlines earlier this year when they allegedly skipped the country after successfully executing the convicted murderer’s escape from the G4S-run Mangaung Correctional Centre in May last year.

She applied for bail for the first time since her April arrest. As the State laid out its case against her, telling the court of her alleged involvement in Bester’s escape, Magudumana sat in the dock looking glum in a jacket and shook her head as the State told the court how she was a married woman and mother of two who eloped and deserted her two baby girls to escape the country with her convicted lover.

Magudumana also cried in the dock as her attorney read her affidavit into the record as she said she had been threatened, kidnapped and forced into the car before fleeing the country.

The State also told the court how she had only once contacted her husband since her arrest. This was rejected by the defence, who said the statement was not true.

The State also told the court how she had helped Bester, allegedly with the help of 12 people, including Magudumana and former G4S employees, fake his suicide death, plant a body, and escape from the prison in a daring escape.

She is also facing fraud charges totaling over R20 million in six different cases from Pretoria, Sandton, Randburg, and Durban North, the court heard this week.

It was only months after the escape that questions started being asked about Bester's escape, and it would only surface publicly in March that Bester had escaped from prison.

The court heard this week how Magudumana was an alleged central figure in Bester's escape.

The State said she was a "mastermind" who had aided the convicted murderer to escape. It was claimed she used her Porsche car to fetch Bester from KZN after he had escaped from prison.

Magudumana, who in the 2019 Glamour article was described as a “powerhouse medical practitioner and business woman" , a "stylish woman" and one of the sisters "disrupting the status quo in their fields".

In 2022, during Women’s Month, Magudumana was also one of the excelling young women who had been invited to speak on the popular and influential Podcast and Chill With Mac G.

She had been invited as one of the young women making strides in the medical aesthetics business through her company, Optimum Medical Solutions.

She is now facing serious charges in court, and the State is fighting tooth and nail to keep her behind bars.

Magudumana is facing multiple charges of fraud, violating a body, corruption, arson, assisting an inmate to escape, harbouring and concealing an escaped prisoner, and defeating the ends of justice.

The State has argued the charges against are serious and must be treated as a Schedule 5 offence, which has a much stricter threshold for bail, while her defence has tried to convince the court the charges were in fact a Schedule 1 offence.

This week, the State told the court that the Health Professions Council had suspended her after she failed to pay her annual fees in 2021, but through her legal representative, advocate Frans Dlamini, she argued that her business did not require her to be registered with the HPCSA.

The State said she had been dating Bester since May 2017, while he was in prison, and while she was and still is married to her husband.

The court also heard how Magudumana approached the Pretoria High Court claiming to be Bester’s customary wife in a bid to claim the confiscated body from Cell 35.

The court application was subsequently dismissed, and Magudumana was declared not to be married to Bester, as she was already married to her husband.

Magudumana has told the court she will stay with a friend in Douglasdale, Dr Michelle Chibaya, if she is granted bail.

The bail application is expected to continue on Monday.