The state withdraws the murder charge against Dr Nandipha Magudumana’s father, Zolile Sekeleni

Photos: Thabo Bester prison break-Two Men Charged To Court For Murder

The Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court on Monday approved R10,000 bail for Zolile Sekeleni, the father of Nandipha Madugumana. Yet until their formal bail applications are heard on May 3 and 4, Madugumana, Senohe Matsoara, and Teboho Lipholo will stay in detention.

Sekeleni is charged with helping Thabo Bester, a convicted rapist and killer, escape from the Mangaung prison in May of last year. He must return to court on May 16.

Magudumana, Bester’s alleged accomplice, and two other suspects have been remanded in custody in the meanwhile.

On May 3 and 4, the three will return to the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court to make their official bail requests.

During court proceedings, Matlhoko requested the court to order Magudumana to remove her N95 mask and her hoodie to reveal her face.

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“The court itself must be satisfied with the identity [of the accused]. We might find that’s not the person. But the court needs to be satisfied that it is indeed the person being charged,” said Matlhoko.

Advocate Themba Diba argued that it was not necessary because Magudumana’s identity has been confirmed. However, magistrate Motlholo Khabisi ordered Magudumana to expose her face.

According to GroundUp, For ten months the state seemingly sat on the facts, not using their enormous collective might and resources, until a small, non-profit company published the embarrassing truth. During this time Bester was hiding in plain sight, committing further crimes. Do not romanticise Bester and his wife (or girlfriend) as a Clyde and Bonnie or the conduct as an escape from Alcatraz. They are low-life dangerous criminals, who openly played the fool with the authorities. It should never have been allowed.

There are two state failures that stand exposed by the Bester saga. The first is the fact that he was allowed to escape. Yes, escapes happen and, yes, they happen with inside assistance. But allowing Thabo Bester to conduct online scams from prison and likely smuggle a body into prison to escape are inexcusable. There was clearly no control at the prison, and G4S and DCS must answer. Neither can escape culpability.

Second is SAPS. We expect our police force to act when dangerous prisoners escape. We expect them to warn the public that a convicted serial rapist and murderer is on the loose. We expect SAPS to be able to solve the murder of a person whose body was burnt in a closed prison environment, where everyone is supposed to be accounted for, promptly. These are just the basic things we expect. We do not expect Tommy Lee Jones and a team of US Marshals to ride into town to catch themselves a fugitive. We just expect some action.