/ 13 June 2023

Thabo Bester saga: suspect number 9 appears in court

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Xanda Moyo, a Zimbabwean, face charges in connection to the prison break of rapist and murderer Bester. Photo: Supplied

Xanda Moyo is the latest suspect to appear in the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court over his alleged role in helping rapist and murderer Thabo Bester escape from prison last year. 

The Zimbabwean is charged with violating a corpse, fraud and harbouring and concealing an escaped offender. Moyo, accused nine in the matter between the state and Bester, made his first court appearance on Tuesday after being apprehended by police in Johannesburg on Sunday morning. 

Moyo appeared without legal representation and asked the court to allow him to contact his family regarding the matter. The accused also indicated that he speaks Northern Ndebele and asked that proceedings be translated into Zulu as it is the closest to his language. 

The state requested that the matter be postponed to gather further information. Magistrate Mohlolo Khabisi joined Moyo’s case with that of the eight other accused — including Bester himself — who are all expected to be back in court on 20 June. 

Bester escaped from the Mangaung maximum security prison in May last year after he misled authorities into believing he had committed suicide. 

Khabisi granted bail of R10 000 each to two of the accused; Nastassja Jansen, a former employee at multinational security company G4S — which managed the prison — as well as Zolile Sikelele, the father of Nandipha Magudumana, another accused in the matter.

Khabisi denied bail to four people — former G4S employees Motanyane Masukela, Senohe Matsoara and Tieho Makhotsa, as well as James Lipholo, a camera technician. 

The accused face charges of assisting an inmate to escape and defeating the ends of justice, arson and fraud.

Meanwhile, Magudumana has lost, with costs, an urgent application in the Free State high court for an order declaring her apprehension with Bester in Tanzania, and subsequent transportation to South Africa, unlawful.

Last week, Judge Philip Loubser found Magudumana had consented to her removal from the East African country by South African home affairs officials because she wanted to return home “to be with her children”.

“At the very least she had willingly acquiesced to her transportation back to South Africa,” the judge said.

He referred to case law, determined by the supreme court of appeal, which held that where the transportation of a person investigated for criminal offences from a foreign jurisdiction is consented to, there is no violation of the person’s fundamental human rights or of international law. 

Magudumana faces multiple charges of fraud and corruption, as well as violating a corpse, harbouring and concealing an escaped offender and defeating the ends of justice.

Bester has abandoned his application for bail. The criminal trial is set to begin on 20 June when Moyo is expected to indicate whether he will apply for bail.