Tanzania deports South Africa’s most-wanted fugitives

'Facebook rapist' Thabo Bester, and his lover Dr Nandipha Magudumana. Pictures: YouTube & Facebook


Tanzania has deported one of South Africa’s most-wanted fugitives, the rapist and murderer Thabo Bester, who faked his death in prison and fled to the East African state. Bester was flown to South Africa in a specially chartered plane, following his arrest in Tanzania last week. His girlfriend, celebrity doctor Nandipha Magudumana, who was arrested with him, has also been deported.

Her father has been charged with helping Bester escape from prison. Bester was at large for a year after it was thought he died by setting himself on fire in his prison cell in the South African city of Bloemfontein. A manhunt was launched last month after a new post-mortem investigation revealed the body was not actually his.

The celebrity doctor’s father, Zolile Sekeleni, and a suspended prison warden, Senohe Matsoara, have been charged with murder, arson and aiding and abetting Bester’s escape. The two men appeared in a magistrate’s court in Bloemfontein earlier this week. They were not asked to plead, and no further details were given of the charges.

The case was postponed to 17 April for a possible bail application. Two other people have also been arrested in connection with Bester’s escape, but they have not yet been formally charged. Bester has been taken to a high-security prison in the capital, Pretoria, while his girlfriend has been taken to court in Bloemfontein. She will be charged with murder, fraud and helping Bester escape, police said.

Bester is also expected to face fresh charges following his shocking prison break. He is known as the “Facebook rapist” for using the social networking site to lure his victims. He was convicted in 2012 for the rape and murder of his model girlfriend Nomfundo Tyhulu. A year earlier, he was found guilty of raping and robbing two other women.

Bester’s escape sparked outrage in South Africa, which has one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the world. UK-owned security company G4S was running the prison from where Bester escaped. The prison’s management has been taken over by South African prison officials, pending the outcome of an investigation into Bester’s escape.

A parliamentary committee summoned G4S to appear before MPs to account for Bester’s escape. A representative of the company, Cobus Groenewoud, admitted to security breaches on the day of the escape, but said they could not be held responsible. Some employees had also been sacked after being implicated in wrongdoing, Mr Groenewoud said.

MPs were critical of G4S, accusing it of “whitewashing” the facts around the escape and withholding vital information, which the company’s representative denied.

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