I'm a victim of Thabo Bester: former 21st Century Media director Phumudzo Thenga

Thabo Bester, the man dubbed the Facebook rapist, did not die in a fire, he escaped from prison, correctional services has confirmed.
Thabo Bester, the man dubbed the Facebook rapist, did not die in a fire, he escaped from prison, correctional services has confirmed.
Image: File

Businesswoman Phumudzo Thenga has distanced herself from convicted rapist and murderer Thabo Bester, saying she's “had nothing to do him since 2018" and was a victim of his scam.

This as the department of correctional services confirmed on Saturday that Bester, dubbed the Facebook rapist, did not die in a fire, but escaped from custody.

Thenga was linked to Bester in a recent GroundUp story that revealed she was the sole director of 21st Century Media — which was behind the sham “Women in Media” conference — which Bester apparently ran as a scam business while imprisoned at the Mangaung correctional centre.

Bester is reported to have posed as a “chairman” of the media company, which claimed to be a subsidiary of American media giant 21st Century Fox.

In a statement via her lawyers, Mabuza Attorneys, Thenga explained how she met Bester.

“In 2017, someone who introduced himself as 'Tom Motsepe' made contact ... through social media platform Instagram. This person showed interest in the community work she was doing and claimed to be based in the UK and USA. He also claimed to be from the well-known Motsepe family.

“Thereafter, he made various business proposals, one of them being creating 21st Century Media. The second proposal was for rolling out ARVs to disadvantaged communities through 'Dr Nandipha'.”

Thenga, who was sole director of 21st Century, explained how the business came about,  insisting she “was hoodwinked by 'Tom Motsepe'”.

“He organised meetings with high-level, legit businesspeople with ease, removing all suspicion of anything untoward.

“In summary Tom Motsepe’s modus operandi was to pretend to be a shareholder of international brands such as 21st Century Fox, Sky Digital etc, [which is how] he hoodwinked Phumudzo into opening [one of the] purported 'local subsidiaries' of these established and well-known international brands.”

Thenga said it was only when lawyers from 21st Century Fox approached her that her suspicions were confirmed and added that the “matter was settled with the lawyers and all IP that was in the registration process was withdrawn”.

“Later on Phumudzo discovered through some employees who had started digging that Tom Motsepe was in fact Thabo Bester and was in prison. [She] confronted 'Tom', who tearfully confirmed that he had been in prison all along and conducted all the correspondence from behind bars.

“When the reality of the scam dawned on her she decided to write the whole thing off as a bad experience. Phumudzo deregistered all the related companies and accepted all the liabilities associated with the activities of the company thereafter, and continued with her existing and new business ventures to this day.”

Thenga insisted she did not scam anyone, but “was actually scammed” and “did not receive any monies from anyone, [but] instead lost money, including the monies she paid to 'Optimum'”.

“I am a victim in all of this, I was scammed and decided to painfully walk away. Now my life will be at risk,” she said.

Read the Thabo Bester stories in the Sunday Times on March 26.


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