As Thabo Bester’s pre-trial date looms, its unclear whether he read or saw the book on his escape

The Facebook Rapist, the Celebrity Doctor and the Escape from Cell 35, book cover. pic ; NB publishers

The Facebook Rapist, the Celebrity Doctor and the Escape from Cell 35, book cover. pic ; NB publishers

Published Jan 29, 2024


Cape Town - A month ahead of Facebook rapist Thabo Bester’s pre-trial at the Bloemfontein High Court, publishers and authors are unable to confirm whether he or Nandipha Magudumana had received a copy of the book based on their elaborate escape.

The Thabo Bester Story, The Facebook Rapist, the Celebrity Doctor and the Escape from Cell 35 has done exceptionally well, according to NB Publishers.

The book, written by Marecia Damons and Daniel Steyn who are GroundUp reporters, hit the shelves nationally in October 2023.

Erika Oosthuysen, non-fiction publisher at NB Publishing, said the book has become a hit. The publishers could not disclose how many copies were sold.

“The book sold exceptionally well, but we are not allowed to share any more precise sales figures,” she said.

“We were very happy with the uptake, reflected both in the excellent sales and in the glowing reviews.”

The book sells for R290 a copy and has 208 pages.

Steyn told the Weekend Argus, the book reflected the issue of transparency within the police and government departments.

“Throughout our investigation into Thabo Bester’s escape, we were repeatedly stonewalled by the Department of Correctional Services and the SAPS, who refused to substantially answer our questions. G4S, the private company that runs the prison hid behind confidentiality clauses in their contract,” Steyn said.

“This made it incredibly difficult to elicit answers from the parties involved and made our work as journalists, to independently investigate the matter, all the more necessary.

“We were shocked by the lack of transparency and accountability in our prisons and police departments; that a convicted murderer and rapist could escape and the authorities felt no need to inform the public.

“I don’t believe this was because of some big conspiracy, but rather because of the government’s embarrassment and incompetence.

“We hope that our work in investigating Thabo Bester’s escape and publishing the book has exposed the lack of transparency in government departments. Hopefully, the government has learnt its lesson, that it is not in their best interests to hide from the public when it comes to grave matters of public safety and the justice system.”

Damons said she was unsure whether Bester or Magudumana had read the book yet and believes the book showed the reality of a broken system. “What was most concerning was the authorities’ failure to notify Bester’s victims and their families.

“Once our exposé was out, more people came forward with allegations that Bester and Magudumana had scammed them in the months following the prison escape. Had the authorities been transparent about Bester’s escape from the beginning, this could have been avoided.

“It does not inspire confidence from the public when the authorities remain silent on matters affecting their safety. This matter could have been wrapped up earlier had the government departments been forthcoming about the status of their probe with us and involved the public sooner”

The National Prosecuting Authority confirmed Bester, Magudumana and Zanda Moyo are due back in court on February 21 for a pre-trial conference.

According to the book’s reference, “It is the quintessential crime story: murder, rape, cons, an improbable love affair, a prison break, a burnt body, a coffin filled with meat, a flashy lifestyle, and a hasty escape in an SUV through three countries.

“The sensational escape of murderer and rapist Thabo Bester, assisted by his lover, society doctor Nandipha Magudumana, shocked South Africa and set social media alight.”

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