LISTEN | Nandipha Magudumana tells court she left SA under ‘pressure, threats’ from Thabo Bester

Friend in Sandown has offered to open her home to Dr Nandipha, who is asking for bail of R10,000

Dr Nandipha Magudumana and Thabo Bester in court on August 8 2023. Magudumana is applying for bail. File photo.
Dr Nandipha Magudumana and Thabo Bester in court on August 8 2023. Magudumana is applying for bail. File photo.
Image: SABC screengrab

Dr Nandipha Magudumana has told the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court that she did not “voluntarily” leave the country with her boyfriend Thabo Bester, but did so under pressure and threats from the convicted rapist and murderer.

Magudumana made these revelations on Tuesday during her second attempt to secure bail. The state is opposing bail.

Listen to the claims made:

Her legal team in May opted to halt her bail application shortly after it started, saying it was “due to unforeseen reasons”.

Magudumana’s lawyer told the court that material evidence crucial to her matter needed to be addressed before proceeding with the application. 

She then approached the Free State high court in June to have her April arrest in Tanzania declared unlawful. 

Judge Phillip Loubser however, found that though her removal to South Africa from Tanzania was a “disguised extradition”, which was unconstitutional, she had consented to her return. Her consent meant South Africa’s criminal courts retained jurisdiction over her.

A month later, the same court dismissed Magudumana’s application for leave to appeal its ruling.

Magudumana’s bail application comes months after nine of her fellow co-accused were granted bail by different courts. Bester and accused No.9 abandoned their bail bids.

After a nearly two-hour delay on Tuesday , the matter finally got underway with a request from prosecutor Sello Matlhoko for clarity on her petition to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

In it, the magistrate is cited as the fourth respondent, according to Matlhoko.

“Now the issue, which to my mind becomes a legal issue, is whether the accused by merely bringing this application to be released on bail is consenting now to the jurisdiction of this honourable court to hear the matter.

“That is an issue I think we need to ascertain so that we don’t find ourselves having transgressed in the legal processes that are underway,” he said.

Magudumana’s lawyer Frans Dlamini clarified that the “processes that are pending before the high court exist separately and independently” from Tuesday’s sitting.

“The status quo remains,” he said as he reminded the court that Magudumana appeared in the magistrate’s court as required throughout the high court challenge.

Dlamini read out Magudumana’s statement, detailing her personal circumstances and the context around her departure from the country.

A tearful Magudumana kept her head down while her lawyer read out her application. This is in contrast to her demeanour earlier this month when she appeared with her lover, Bester, and 10 accused in the same court. During that appearance, Magudumana only had eyes for the convicted rapist seated next to her. At some point, Bester leant on her shoulder before asking if she was OK.

She confirmed that she had resided in Hyde Park for the past two years and before that, in Bedfordview with her estranged husband and children.

She revealed that she was still married but separated from her husband and that she had “full parental rights” over her two minor children, an 11-year-old and six-year-old. 

“I intend staying with a friend in Sandown ext 56 in Sandton, Johannesburg,” if released on bail, she said, submitting a supporting affidavit from her friend to confirm this.

Magudumana declined to get into the circumstances around how she left South Africa, merely providing “context” on the contentious issue.

She told the court that she left the country in the company of Bester on March 17, 2023.

“I was instructed and commanded by accused number five (Bester) to get into a vehicle and leave the premises to a destination unknown to me at the time. I refused and wanted an explanation but he forced me into a vehicle.

“I succumbed to the pressure due to the threats he directed at me. I was defenceless, helpless and with no-one to report to at that time. I complied with his instructions and was taken outside the country against my will. At all times, I had no control over the situation because I was scared of the threats made by the accused. I submit that I did not voluntarily depart from SA and I had no reason to leave SA,” she said.

Magudumana also shared details around her arrest, with Bester, in Arusha over the Easter weekend.

She told the court that she was arrested by members of the SA police, who “called me by my name and were communicating in isiZulu”.

“I was then taken into custody in an unknown facility. Upon my arrest, the said members of SAPS discovered passports in the cubbyhole. I was later informed that one of the passports belonged to me ... I was not aware that my passport was in the vehicle,” she said.

Magudumana said she could afford bail of R10,000.

She said she would not interact or interfere with the state’s witnesses. She also told the court that her release on bail would pose no danger to anyone.

It was initially believed Bester died in his prison cell at Mangaung Correctional Centre in May 2022. Once allegations surfaced that the burnt body found in his cell was not his, Magudumana and Bester went into hiding before leaving the country.

The bail hearing continues.


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