Thabo Bester: State drops charges against three accused

The group appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. Screenshot: SABC

The group appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. Screenshot: SABC

Published Oct 11, 2023


As the saga continues in the Thabo Bester prison escape matter, the State shocked the gallery in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday when it withdrew all charges against three of the accused.

Initially, 12 suspects were on the charge sheet, including Bester, his girlfriend, Dr Nandipha Magudumana, 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.

However, State Prosecutor Amanda Bester told the court that charges were being withdrawn against Jansen, Ramolula, and Mier.

The trio, who were currently out on bail, were allowed to leave the dock immediately; the relief on their faces was visible.

Natassja Jansen had the charges against her withdrawn. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

In court, there was also some confusion between legal representatives as to who was really representing Bester, as a new attorney came onto the record.

Bester’s lawyer, Jan Loubser, told the court he will be working alongside advocate Zandile Mshololo, who represents their client. But there was an objection, as high-profile advocate Dali Mpofu objected.

However, addressing the court, Bester said he had wanted both counsels to represent him.

The court asked the legal representatives to sort the matter out between themselves and Bester.

Some of the accused pictured in the dock. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

Magudumana was not present during proceedings, and the State only said “the matter will be dealt with later”.

However, earlier reports said that Magudumana collapsed at the Park Road police station holding cells.

Magudumana was arrested with her lover, Bester, who faked his death at the Mangaung Correctional Centre and escaped in May last year. Magudumana was allegedly a central figure in planning and coordinating Bester’s escape, with the State describing her as a mastermind.

It is alleged she thought she was to appear in court virtually; however, her legal counsel told the SABC their client was “forcefully removed”.

The State also handed out its indictment to the accused remaining in the dock.

A pre-trial date for the Bloemfontein High Court is to be announced.