Tanzanian team requested luxurious jet that brought Bester, Magudumana back to SA: Cele

13 April 2023 - 17:20
By Khanyisile Ngcobo
The luxurious inside of a Zenith Air Dassault Falcon 900B aircraft, the type used to return Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana to South Africa. Sources say the configuration of the plane was slightly different to the one featured here to cater for the larger government contingent which returned the fugitives to this country.
Image: flyzenith.com The luxurious inside of a Zenith Air Dassault Falcon 900B aircraft, the type used to return Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana to South Africa. Sources say the configuration of the plane was slightly different to the one featured here to cater for the larger government contingent which returned the fugitives to this country.

The decision to return fugitive Thabo Bester and his lover, Dr Nandipha Magudumana, to South Africa in a chartered jet rather than a state aircraft was part of negotiations with Tanzanian officials, police said.

TimesLIVE Investigations revealed the government chartered a Dassault Falcon 900B to fly senior police, home affairs and justice department officials to Tanzania and return to South Africa with the high-profile couple and their Mozambican "accomplice", Zakaria Alberto.

The aircraft was chartered from Zenith Air by the National Airways Corporation (NAC), which, according to National Treasury documents seen by TimesLIVE, is an approved government airline charter provider.

The trio’s 2,676km flight aboard the plane ended at Johannesburg's Lanseria International Airport shortly after 4am on Thursday.

Facing questions from DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach, police top brass, in a justice and correctional services portfolio committee briefing, said their decision to charter the aircraft was to appease their Tanzanian counterparts. 

Police commissioner Lt-Gen Fannie Masemola tried to explain the decision, saying: "When you deport anyone from a country, you deport the person ... people that are responsible for immigration are the ones that come on board. But you don't deport through police, police can assist in the process."

This vague response left Breytenbach confused, prompting police minister Bheki Cele to step in.

"Chairperson, simply put, it was part of the negotiations with the officials on the other side that it would be their pleasure if it's done the way it was done, so we had to respect those negotiations with them."

Breytenbach then asked if Cele was saying it was the Tanzanians who wanted to fly to South Africa in a private jet, adding that it was a "yes or no" question, to which Cele hit back that he wouldn't respond if she put it like that. 

He then again explained it was the negotiation team that left on April 9 that advised the Tanzanians would be more comfortable using a private aircraft.

"So we had to respect that," Cele quipped. 

TimesLIVE

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