Convicted murderer and rapist Thabo Bester appeared handcuffed and handcuffed in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday – where his legal representative argued that he feared for his life.
The 37-year-old Bester returned to South Africa a day ago from Tanzania, where he was arrested. Today he was dressed in a yellow tracksuit and during the court proceedings he mostly looked undisturbed at the many cameras in the crowded court.
A heavy police presence was continuously maintained.
Bester, dubbed the Facebook rapist, was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 after he lured victims onto the social media platform and then raped and robbed them. He killed at least one of his victims.
He disappeared about a year ago during a daring escape from prison. A burnt body was found in Bester’s prison cell in May 2022, which initially led the authorities to believe that he had set himself on fire. However, DNA samples later showed the remains in the cell were not those of Bester.
Bester was arrested by the Tanzanian police on Friday, after he and his mistress, Dr. Nandipha Magudumana, fled the country. Another person, a Mozambican citizen, was arrested with them.
Maguduma het Thursday has already appeared in court where she stands trial on various charges, including murder. She and four other defendants, including her father, must appear in court again on April 17 in connection with their alleged role in the escape saga.
During Friday’s proceedings, the magistrate rejected Bester’s request to address the court. His legal representative argued that Bester has not eaten anything in the last 24 hours and that he will only accept food from his legal team because he fears for his safety.
His legal representative also asked that Bester appear in court again as soon as possible, a request that the court also turned down after the state argued that it needed at least a month to investigate the events.
It must be ensured that proper security measures apply when Bester appears in court again.
The case was consequently adjourned until May 16.
Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Home Affairs, earlier today said the department could not find any key records of Bester and that he “simply does not exist in our system”.
Bester does not have an ID, nor a birth certificate or passport issued by the department.
Bester did have several passports in his possession when he was arrested in Tanzania.
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