Nandipha Magudumana spends 35th birthday in the dock as she tells court she can afford R10,000 bail

Nandipha Magudumana is seeking bail in the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court. File Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

Nandipha Magudumana is seeking bail in the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court. File Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 4, 2023


Nandipha Magudumana, who is spending her 35th birthday in the dock, seeking release after months behind bars, has told the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court she would be willing and able to pay R10,000 bail.

Magudumana was captured sharing a light moment with her father, Zolile Sekeleni, who embraced her in front of media cameras.

Magudumana's family, which include her brothers and sisters, were also in court.

Last week, over two days, Magudumana made her first bail application since her arrest in April. She was arrested along with her convicted murderer boyfriend Thabo Bester, who is also known as the Facebook rapist. Bester had been serving a life sentence for rape and murder.

Bester, with the help of at least 12 people, allegedly including Magudumana and former G4S employees, escaped from the privately-run Mangaung Correctional Centre in May last year after he managed to fake his own fiery death.

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 portrayed her as a married woman who was a criminal mastermind in Bester’s daring escaped and who deserted her two children to flee with her lover.

Magudumana's defence was that she had in fact been kidnapped and was forced into the vehicle by Bester when they fled to Tanzania.

Her attorney, Machini Motloung, told the court Magudumana would be willing to pay R10,000 if bail was granted.

Magudumana would be released into the custody of her friend, Dr Michelle Chibaya, if bail was granted.

Motloung argued that the State had failed to show cause how Magudumana was a flight risk and should not be granted bail.

Motloung also said the State, under Count 3 (corruption), had created a “backdrop of confusion” as it spoke about an R85,000 being allegedly paid to one of the accused, but the charge sheet spoke of R40,000 and it did not address the R2.5 million presented in court.

The State alleges R2.5 million was offered by Magudumana to the other accused to enable Bester’s escape.

Motloung also told the court that Magudumana and Bester who were seen purportedly embracing each other affectionately in the dock when they came in contact recently for the first time since their arrest.

“The reason that the State is resorting to that strategy is to undermine the allegation that (Magudumana) involuntarily left the country,” said Motloung, who said an expert was the in the best position to determine Magudumana’s body language.

Motloung also told the court that the State had lied, saying Magudumana only contacted his children once during her four months in prison.

“This is not backed up by any shred of evidence. Their word cannot be gospel. Where did they get that information from?

“They went as far as downloading pictures, the information was left hanging, and it is expected of this honourable court to just accept it,” said Motloung.

Last week, the court heard evidence from Investigating Officer Colonel Tieho Flyman, who is based at the SA Police Services’ Organised Crime Division in Bloemfontein, who submitted an affidavit detailing how Magudumana was a flight risk, how she allegedly assisted Bester to escape, and how she was facing over R20 million in fraud charges in different cases around the country.

The State has argued the charges against her 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.

Magudumana also submitted an affidavit to the court last week, claiming she had in fact been kidnapped and forced into the vehicle by Bester and that she had no desire to flee the country.

Nandipha Magudumana's bail application was set out for two days last week, but the proceedings were not concluded in time, leading to additional time being allocated for Monday.

The bail application continues.

Other accused in the Bester matter are former G4S prison warder Senohe Matsoara, Zanda Moyo, Zolile Cornelius Sekeleni, former Integritron Integrated Solutions camera technician Teboho Lipholo, suspended G4S employee Tieho Frans Makhotsa, former G4S guard Buti Masukela, suspended G4S employee Natassja Jansen and G4S employees, Joel Makhetha, Moeketsi Ramolula and Thabang Mier, who were all granted bail.

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