NPA confirms murder charge against Thabo Bester, co-accused withdrawn
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Thursday confirmed that it had withdrawn a murder charge against Thabo Bester, Dr Nandipha Magudumana and their co-accused.
Bester, Magudumana, her father Zolile Cornelius Sekeleni, Senohe Matsoara, Teboho Lipholo, Buty Masemola, Tieho Makhotsa and Nastassja Jansen also faced a litany of other charges, including fraud, aiding and abetting a convict to escape custody, corruption and defeating the ends of justice.
“The NPA confirms it will no longer prefer a charge of murder against the accused in the Thabo Bester case after further evidence was presented by the investigating team.
“At this early stage, prosecutors can only bring charges based on the evidence presented by the investigators,” said NPA spokesperson Phaladi Shuping.
The accused were charged with murdering Katlego Bereng, whose body was used as a stand-in corpse during Bester’s elaborate escape from the G4S-run Mangaung Correctional Centre on May 3 last year.
Police last week confirmed the corpse used in Bester’s cell 35 was that of Bereng. His fingerprints, obtained at the National Hospital in Bloemfontein, were used to identify the 31-year-old father of two.
“The investigation reveals that there was [a] postmortem report performed on the body of the unidentified deceased person found in cell 35 at Mangaung Correctional Centre and the cause of death was registered as unnatural death.
“The cause of this unnatural death is still being investigated. At this stage, there is insufficient evidence for the NPA to pursue a charge of murder, hence the NPA has taken a decision not to proffer a charge of murder pending further investigation,” police said.
Bereng’s aunt, Poppie Bereng, said the family could not comment on the latest developments because they were unaware of them.
“We don’t have an opinion on the matter because the authorities have not approached us to inform us that the murder charge has been withdrawn.
“I was in court yesterday and nothing was said about the [murder] charge being withdrawn,” she said.
The NPA’s move comes against the backdrop of Bereng’s memorial service in Bloemfontein on Thursday, where dozens of people paid tribute to him.
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