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Praise for ‘hero’ cops who flagged Magudumana’s suspicious behaviour

Judge Cameron says Bester’s foul play was reported in November

Nomazima Nkosi Senior reporter
Retired constitutional court justice Edwin Cameron is the inspecting judge of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services. File photo.
Retired constitutional court justice Edwin Cameron is the inspecting judge of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services. File photo.
Image: Thys Dullaart

The Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) has congratulated two police officers for picking up Dr Nandipha Magudumana’s questionable behaviour.

Inspecting judge of correctional services Edwin Cameron said JICS told G4S in November that the burnt body found in cell 35 was not that of Thabo Bester.

This is despite G4S telling the justice and correctional services portfolio committee on Wednesday that it was only showed the post-mortem results in February 2.

“G4S knew long before but were closing their eyes on it. I’m told we informed G4S about the body, about the post-mortem, in November,” Cameron said.

Cameron told the committee that he informed the regional commissioner in November of Bester’s escape.

He commended the two officers who stopped Magudumana from collecting corpses in Bloemfontein in 2022.

“Constable Lekgoa, who was [stationed] at the Naval Hill police station, noticed that Dr Magudumana had been persistently coming to collect corpses and he put a stop [to it].

“This triggered an urgent application by Dr Magudumana – not in Bloemfontein where deaths occurred, not where the refusal occurred – to North Gauteng High Court. A brigadier in charge of legal services in Bloemfontein got an SMS on an afternoon and she intervened and urgently contacted state attorney in Pretoria and got a notice of opposition put in, and that answering affidavit, which was lodged in August, opened up matters for the department,” Cameron said.

JICS CEO Vick Misser gave a timeline of events surrounding the death of Bester and said they started investigating the mysterious fire two days after it happened.

“On May 19‚ Dr Magudumana approached the court to claim this body. A sworn statement was taken from the investigating officer recording the suspicious events that occurred on the evening in that cell. These statements were provided to the judge and we were tasked by the judge president to intervene on behalf of JICS‚” Misser said.

Misser told parliament they received autopsy and DNA results in August and informed the inspecting judge that the body found in the cell did not appear to be that of Bester.

Free State provincial commissioner Lt-Gen Baile Motswenyane told parliament that despite this, Magudumana was never brought in for questioning.

EFF MP Yoliswa Yako accused the police of being a passive partner during the investigation. 

“How do you have someone who claimed bodies three times not be called in for questioning?” Yako asked. 

Motswenyane said the investigation was guided by procedure. 

“This was not an easy investigation. We kept getting information at every stage,” she said.

– Additional reporting by Rosisang Kgosana

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