Thabo Bester changes lawyers as case postponed to June

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Convicted rapist and murderer Thabo Bester appearing in court on Tuesday virtually from Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre in Pretoria. PHOTO: Screengrab

Facebook rapist Thabo Bester will return to court next month after his case was postponed by the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court.

Bester made his second court appearance on Tuesday, but virtually from the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre in Pretoria.

New lawyer
It was confirmed during proceedings that Bester now has a new lawyer after his legal team withdrew from representing him.

His new lawyer, Advocate Tsoeunyane Pela, informed the court of their dissatisfaction with the virtual hearing.

Pela asked that Bester be sent to Bloemfontein and appear in court on Wednesday, so that the legal team is able to converse with him.

“We don’t request our client to be transported to court for consultation. It is the right of the client to appear in court in terms of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa under a fair trial.

“The issue we will be bringing to the court as preliminary issue requires our client to here so that should the court ask us any questions, we are able to quickly confirm, and consult with him. [This] will make the work of this court very easy,” the advocate said on Tuesday.

Pela said he wants the court to be satisfied that the person before court was, in fact, Bester because the only evidence that the man before them was the convict was a J88 form, which a document completed by a doctor and submitted as written evidence of the injuries a patient has suffered.

But the state argued that Bester’s legal team can converse with their clients virtually.

Magistrate Motlholo Khabisi also pointed out that there was no reason for Bester to appear physically as the issue of identification was never contested during his first appearance in court.

“If a wrong person associated with the name of Thabo Bester was brought before me then that issue should have been canvased there, but it did not happen,” the magistrate said.

Due to lack of merits, the magistrate dismissed Pela’s request and postponed the matter to 20 June, for further investigation.

Bester will remain in custody until then.

Dr Nandipha case
Bester’s partner, Dr Nandipha Magudumana also made a virtual appearance in court on Tuesday, with her case being postponed to 20 June as well.

Magudumana and six people are accused of helping Bester escape from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein on 3 May 2022, after faking his death in a staged jail cell fire.

Katlego Bareng’s body was found in the prison cell.

The other accused in the case are Magudumana’s father, Zolile Sekeleni, who is out on R10 000 bail and will return to court on 20 June, and former G4S employees Senohe Matsoara, Teboho Lipholo, Buti Masukela, Tieho Frans Makhotsa and Natassja Jansen.

In her previous court appearance, Magudumana’s legal representatives, Advocate Frans Dlamini and Advocate Machini Motloung, told the court that she would no longer pursue her bail application due to the emergence of “crucial evidence”, which has prompted the need for further investigation.

The decision, however, did not necessarily represent an abandonment of the bail application altogether, according to the legal team.

Bester and Magudumana were arrested in Tanzania last month.

The Citizen/ Molefe Seeletsa