/ 17 April 2023

Thabo Bester saga: Nandipha Magudumana’s father granted bail

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Zolile Sikelele. File photo by Mlungisi Louw/Volksblad/Gallo Images via Getty Images

Zolile Sikelele, the second accused linked to the prison escape of convicted rapist and murderer Thabo Bester, was on Monday granted bail of R10 000 with conditions in the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court.

Sikelele appeared alongside his daughter, celebrity “doctor” and businesswoman Nandipha Magudumana, and two co-accused, Senohe Matsoara and James Lipholo, on charges related to helping Bester in his escape from the Mangaung maximum security prison on 3 May last year.  

They each faced four charges including murder, assisting an inmate to escape and defeating the ends of justice — but the murder charge against Sikelele has been dropped. Matsoara is separately charged with arson and Sikelele with fraud.

The state did not oppose bail for Sikelele. 

But Sello Matlhoko, for the state, said bail for the remaining accused when they formally apply for it next month on 3 and 4 May, will be opposed. 

Sikelele was granted release on condition that he reports once a week to the Port Edward police station, does not leave the magisterial district of Port Edward without permission and does not have any contact with state witnesses. 

He is set to appear in court on 16 May when Bester is expected to be added as accused five in the matter. 

Magistrate Mohlolo Khabisi postponed the matter to 3 May.   

Magudumana, believed to be Bester’s partner, made her first court appearance in Bloemfontein last week Thursday. 

GroundUp recently reported that Magudumana used Bester’s many aliases to book accommodation worth R120 000 in Bloemfontein and Ballito in the weeks leading up to his escape from the maximum security prison last year, which he did by faking his own death.

He and Magudumana were tracked down 11 months later in Tanzania where they were travelling on fake passports. 

The Citizen reported that when Bester was detained in Tanzania, documents found in his possession identified him as an American citizen, Tommy William Kelly. 

Bester has previously used more than 18 aliases, including TK Nkwana — the name his neighbours knew him by — as well as Piet Timothy and Tom Motsepe.

Last Friday, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi confirmed that Bester does not have a South African identity document, marriage certificate or passport.

“Thabo never registered with any home affairs at any stage. So, the only place where you could find him, as police have said, was in correctional services when he was an inmate. That’s where you’ll find his fingerprints and photo and the South African Police Service’s crime database,”  Motsoaledi said.