In a shocking twist, the state has dropped murder charges against Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana, who were accused of killing an unidentified person and using their body to fake Bester’s death in prison.
Bester, a notorious ra_pist and murderer who was serving a life sentence, escaped from Mangaung Correctional Centre in May last year by setting fire to his cell and planting a corpse in his place.
He then fled to Tanzania with his girlfriend Magudumana, a celebrity doctor who was suspended for violating medical ethics.
The couple were arrested in Tanzania recently and extradited to South Africa, where they faced charges of murder, fraud, defeating the ends of justice and violating human tissue laws.
However, on Wednesday, the state prosecutor announced that the murder charges against them had been withdrawn due to insufficient evidence.
The prosecutor said that the post-mortem examination of the body found in Bester’s cell was inconclusive and that there was no DNA match with any missing person. He also said that there was no proof that Bester and Magudumana were involved in the killing or knew the identity of the victim.
The couple will still face the other charges related to Bester’s escape and Magudumana’s role in helping him. They will also face separate charges for their crimes committed before their arrest.
Bester was convicted in 2012 for the ra_pe and murder of his model girlfriend Nomfundo Tyhulu and for ra_ping and robbing two other women.
Magudumana was suspended for performing illegal abo_rtions and issuing fraudulent sick notes.
The case has also exposed serious flaws in the prison system and the security company G4S, which ran the Mangaung Correctional Centre.
Three employees of G4S have been dismissed for allegedly aiding Bester’s escape. The father of Magudumana and a prison warden have also been charged with murder, arson and aiding and abetting Bester’s escape.
Bester and Magudumana are currently being held at Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre, a maximum security facility in Pretoria.