/ 3 May 2023

Thabo Bester saga: bail hearing postponed, two more suspects added

Thabo Bester Gallo Images 2
There was drama at convicted rapist and murderer Thabo Bester’s virtual appearance at the Bloemfontein magistrate court on Tuesday, when his lawyer said the court must satisfy itself that it was indeed his client before it. (Photo by Gallo Images/Frikkie Kapp)

The bail hearing of the accused who allegedly helped convicted murderer and rapist Thabo Bester escape from prison last May was postponed in the Bloemfontein magistrate court on Wednesday, as two more suspects were added to the indictment. 

Tieho Frans Makhotsa and Natasha Jansen appeared as accused seven and eight. Both are dismissed former employees at the multinational security company, G4S, which managed the Mangaung maximum security prison in the Free State at the time Bester escaped. 

Six of the eight accused appeared in court on Wednesday, including the two other former G4S employees — Motenyane Masukela and Senohe Matsoara — celebrity doctor and businesswoman Nandipha Magudumana, and camera technician, James Lipholo. 

Zolile Sikelele, Magudumana’s father, was granted bail of R10 000 with conditions last month. 

Prosecutor Sello Matlhoko, for the state, asked the court to postpone the matter following the detainment of Makhotsa and Jansen on Monday.  

“We have reached an agreement for the postponement of the matter … to afford the state an opportunity to gather bail information in respect of accused number seven and eight,” said Matlhoko. He added that if not for the latest arrests, the state would have been ready to proceed with the bail hearing. 

The state noted the concerns brought forward by the defence teams outside of court about how further developments in the investigation would impact bail proceedings at the next court appearance.  

Matlhoko told the court: “The prosecution has given them assurance in respect of the accused before court. We will proceed irrespective of whether there are new accused added or not.” 

Magistrate Mohlolo Khabisi said “it would be in the interest of justice” to postpone the matter. He also indicated that, should the bail applications take more than two days, further dates would be determined for the hearing to continue. 

The hearing is expected to continue on 11 May.