SAPS caught pants down: Charters Thabo Bester a private jet


South Africa Police Service (SAPS) failed to provide concrete explanation why they chartered a private jet to extradite fugitive Thabo Bester and his wife, Dr Nandipha Magudumana from Tanzania.

During the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services briefing by the Ministries of Justice and Correctional Services and Police on circumstance around the prison break from Mangaung Correctional Centre of convicted rapist and murderer, Thabo Bester, it emerged that SAPS chartered a private jet to transport the notorious fugive.

Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach asked SAPS why the opted to charter a private jet instead of using either jets owned by the State or the Police.

“Can somebody tell me why it was necessary to charter a private jet in order to bring [Thabo] Bester and [his wife, Dr. Nandipha Magudumana] back to South Africa. The police has a jet. The state has another jet. Why was it necessary to Charter a private jet?” queried the former prosecutor for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa.

The question evoked allegations that the notorious fugitive staged his prison escape with the help of influential people. Earlier investigations by GroundUP suggest that Bester is politically connected with powerful and influential people who either helped or made his escape from Mangaung Correctional Centre possible.

Cele: Tanzania request us to charter a private jet

The question by Adv Breytenbach left SAPS in disarray and scrambling for a possible logical answer.

“Chairperson, if the police had to transport all the people from that side [Tanzania] to here [South Africa] after the [South African] team met the Tanzanian team, they established that for any deportation does not involve the police. When you deport anybody from a country, people that are responsible for immigration. You don’t deport through a police”, responded Police commissioner Fannie Masemola.

Breytenbach quickly noted that the commission had used a straw-man without answering her question.

“I’m sorry that doesn’t answer my question. Why do you need to Charter a private jet”, she queried.

A second attempt to the question was by Bhekokwakhe Bheki Cele, the Minister of Police. Cele claimed that Tanzania had requested SAPS to charter a private jet for the fugitive.

“Simply put, [chartering of the private jet] was part of negotiations with the [Tanzanian] officials on the other side that it would be their pleasure if the stand the way that it was done [by chartering a private jet]. So we had to respect those negotiations”, said Cele.

However, Cele changed tune when request to confirm if a “yes or no” answer that the decision to charter the private jet was made because Tanzania had requested for it.

“So the Tanzanians wanted to fly to South Africa in a private jet? is that what you’re saying? It’s a yes or no answer”, Breytenbach asked.

“I am not going to answer that way. You can tell others to answer yes or no. We absolutely not in court here” Cele shot at Breytenbach.

The advocate allowed Cele to go with his own approach. The minister further shifted the goal post from SAPS to Tanzania without explaining why the police could not use the jets owned by South Africa.

“We send the team to negotiate. The the team left on the 9th [of April, 2023]. So it would be initially the extradition or the deportation. so, we were advised [as to] which is a better and easier [route]. So we had to negotiate.

“So that was raised by the team as we were in contact with the team to say they [Tanzanian officials] would be more comfortable if something private rather than the police comes. So we had to respect that” said Cele in response while justifying why a private jet had to be chartered.

Thabo Bester is appearing in court today.

The Prison Break

Thabo Bester is known in South Africa the “Facebook rapist”. He used the social media to lure young women who he would later rape. He was convicted of raping and killing one of the women.

But in May 2022, the notorious criminal staged a ‘successful’ prison break at Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein. He faked “suicide by setting himself alight in his cell”.

However, a comprehensive investigation by GroundUp discovered evidence suggesting that Thabo Bester did not die in the fire but used it as cover for his prison break.

A post-mortem conducted on the body found in the cell believed to be Thabo Bester revealed that the person was dead before the fire broke out.

The notorious criminal was residing in Sandton where he was running another fraudulent business, iMedia to con people and other women.

Government only confirmed that Thabo Bester had escaped from prison in March this year after GroundUp had published photographs of the rapist and his wife, Dr Nandipha Magudumana, shopping in Sandton last June.

It is alleged Magdumana helped Bester escape from Prison. It has further been alleged that after his prison break, Thabo used.

After news of the story, Thabo Bester and his wife went on the run. On 7 April 2023, the couple was arrested in Tanzania and were deported back to South Africa on Thursday.

By 4:00 in the morning of Thursday on 13 April 2023, the fugitives landed at Lanseria Airport in South Africa aboard a private jet that SAPS had chartered to deport them from Tanzania.

Dr Nandipha Magudumana appeared in court yesterday where she was charged for alleged violation of bodies, fraud, and aiding and abetting Thabo Bester’s escape. Her case is adjourned to 17 April for bail hearing.

Thabo appeared in court today where he was charged with escaping from prison, violation of bodies, fraud, and defeating the ends of justice. His case has been adjourned to 16 May 2023.

The thriller continues.