The defence for Nandipha Magudumana, the girlfriend of convicted rapist and murderer Thabo Bester, has told the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court she has strong family ties where she resides in South Africa and will, therefore, not evade trial.
Magudumana‘s bail application, which started last week continued, on Monday with closing arguments. Her criminally charged father, Zolile Cornelius Sekeleni, and siblings were also in court. Defence lawyer Machini Motloung, who took over from Frans Dlamini, said Magudumana had ties in South Africa.
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“The evidence, in as far as personal circumstances are concerned, it is not even riddled with any improbabilities, no far-fetched, succinct to the point that the applicant has strong family ties within the area where she resides, including strong family and occupational ties in the Republic of South Africa.
“The affidavit from the state in opposition negates this essential element of her case. There is nowhere this issue is attacked by the state,” said Motloung.
Motloung also said Magudumana’s passport was confiscated. “It is incumbent on the state to produce tangible evidence and not merely speculate to the effect that there is a likelihood that the applicant will attempt to evade her trial. The applicant made it quite clear, played open cards that she has travel documents, but it has been ceased.”
During court proceedings last week, State prosecutor Adv. Sello Matlhoko said Magudumana and Bester appeared to be showing affection to each other when they appeared in court earlier this month.
“They were seen holding hands and smiling to each other.”
However, Motloung said the court can’t rely on photos submitted by the state capturing interaction between Bester and Magudumana.
“We find it very problematic. We don’t even have the expertise to determine the person’s behavior.”
Motloung said Nandipha Magudumana who is celebrating her 35th birthday on Monday, spent a long time in detention and the state’s case is still under investigation.
“We don’t have an indication on how far they will go. She has a right to liberty according to the Constitution,” he said.
Motloung argued that the state’s evidence contradicted the charge sheet against Nandipha. Motloung also argued on the non-penal nature of bail.
“The applicant cannot be held in custody as a form of anticipatory punishment. We can locate the anticipatory punishment through the posture adopted by the state.”
Bail adding that Magudumana could afford bail of R10 000.
She previously reserved her right to bail in May 2023, pending the outcome of an application to have her arrest and extradition from Tanzania declared unlawful.
Bester and Magudumana were arrested in April, about 10km outside of Tanzania’s capital city, Arusha, after fleeing from the hotel they were staying in.
Bester, dubbed the Facebook Rapist, escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein in May 2022. It had initially been believed that he had committed suicide by setting himself alight in his cell.