One year since Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana were brought back to SA: here’s what we know about the case that gripped the nation

Notorious Facebook rapist Thabo Bester and his celebrity doctor girlfriend Dr Nandipha Magudumana are the subject of Showmax’s doccie, ‘Tracking Thabo Bester’. Picture: Supplied

Notorious Facebook rapist Thabo Bester and his celebrity doctor girlfriend Dr Nandipha Magudumana are the subject of Showmax’s doccie, ‘Tracking Thabo Bester’. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 13, 2024


On April 13, 2023, South African officials confirmed that Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana had been brought back to the country to face charges brought against them after they fled South Africa.

What unfolded in the months after their return, left the country screaming ‘Bathong!’ as investigations sent us down the rabbit hole, into a world where an inmate played the ultimate puppet master, yielding power and control.

Thabo Bester was arrested, charged and sentenced for offering young, aspiring models fake modelling gigs using Facebook. Bester pleaded guilty to two rape charges and one murder charge, that of Nomfundo Tyhulu.

He was to spend life behind bars, however, Bester had other ideas.

The Mangaung Correctional Centre. Picture: Google Maps

Instead, Bester faked his death and fled to Tanzania with Magudumana.

Forensics confirm that the two people arrested in Tanzania and brought back to South Africa, are Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana, says Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Mzilikazi wa Afrika/Se-Anne Rall/Facebook

A year before his arrest, the country's prison officials released a statement saying Bester died in his prison cell at the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein, run by G4S Security.

An in-depth investigation by GroundUp revealed that Bester had been living the high life in Gauteng's affluent Sandton suburb.

During that investigation, and subsequent articles by other media houses, including a four-part documentary by Showmax, the world got to see how Bester fooled so many.

Bester, aka ‘Tom’, had duped people, some high profile ones too, into believing it was his birthday and he was in New York. Video clips of the guests singing Happy birthday to “Tom”, one of Bester’s many aliases, have since gone viral.

@sabcnews Is it #ThaboBester's Birthday today? At a launch party for Thabo Besters scam company, 21st Century Media, he appeared via video link from his prison cell where the group wished him a Happy Birthday on the 13 June. #sabcnews ♬ original sound - SABC News

Where are we now?

Once official investigations got under way, Bester and Magudumana were brought back to SA, police have rounded up a list of suspects including Maguduman’s father, Zolile Sekeleni.

They are Senohe Matsoara; Sekeleni; Teboho Lipholo; Magudumana; Bester; Buti Masukela; Teiho Makhotsa; Nastassja Jansen; Zando Moyo; Joel Maketha; Moeketsi Ramolula; and Thabang Meir.

So far, the State has withdrawn charges against Jansen, Ramolula, and Meir.

Magudumana’s attempts to have her extradition deemed illegal also fell flat.

Days before the release of Showmax’s 'Tracking Thabo Bester', Mzansi's 'Bonnie and Clyde', through their respective legal teams, filed applications to have the release of the documentary halted.

In March, IOL reported that in documents addressed to MultiChoice and Showmax, Magudumana wanted a full and complete copy of the series in order to establish if there are issues that could prejudice her rights. Bester on the other hand stated that he did not grant any rights to produce, distribute or commercially exploit a documentary or film on his life. In the Johannesburg High Court, Judge Stuart Wilson dismissed the application.

Since, Magudumana has made headlines after claiming she was assaulted in prison. The Department of Correctional Services confirmed that they were investigating the allegations.

This week, Magudumana's legal team threatened legal action against the department over the alleged assault. They are demanding a full report of the incident by the end of this month.

Thabo Bester and Zanda Moyo Picture: NPA/Supplied

While the other accused have since been granted bail, Bester, Magudumana, and Zanda Moyo remain in custody.

They are expected back in court on June 5 for a pre-trial conference.

IOL News