Four of five accused in Thabo Bester matter denied bail

29 May 2023 - 13:51
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Senohe Matsoara, Teboho Lipholo, Buti Masukela, Tieho Frans Makhotsa and Natassja Jansen in the Bloemfontein magistrate's court. File photo.
Senohe Matsoara, Teboho Lipholo, Buti Masukela, Tieho Frans Makhotsa and Natassja Jansen in the Bloemfontein magistrate's court. File photo.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

Four of the five accused in the Thabo Bester matter were on Monday denied bail by the Bloemfontein magistrate's court.

Senohe Matsoara, Teboho Lipholo, Buti Masukela and Tieho Frans Makhotsa were denied bail by magistrate Mohlolo Khabisi.

Natassja Jansen was granted R10,000 bail with conditions.

“The interests of justice do not permit the release of applicants 1, 2 and 3 and 4 on bail and bail is denied,” Khabisi said.

He spent almost an hour outlining the arguments by the accused in their applications and the amount they could afford. He also listed the charges they face: Motsoara faces 13 charges, including three counts of fraud, two of violation of a corpse and arson.

Lipholo faces 10 charges, including fraud and violation of a corpse. Masukela faces five charges, including fraud and arson, Makhotsa faces six and Jansen faces three charges.

“I have considered the provisions of [the relevant legislation] and I weighed the personal circumstances of the applicants against the interests of justice. On evidence presented before me, I am convinced there is a prima facie case against applicants 1 to 4,” Khabisi said. 

“The court is also concerned about these allegations as it appears the offence was in cahoots with people [in] whom trust was bestowed. That the offence was committed at a place expected to be secure. It is hard, if not impossible, to find the personal circumstances of the applicants outweighing the interests of justice in this case.”

Referring to Jansen, who's accused 8 in the matter, Khabisi said the state's case against her was “porous” and her personal circumstances gave him enough reason to grant her bail.

“The state did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the interest of justice do not permit her release on bail. She is admitted to bail.”

Jansen indicated she could afford R5,000 bail but she was granted R10,000 bail after a request from the state.

This was granted on condition she report to a Bloemfontein police station on Fridays at 6am and 6pm, not contact state witnesses or leave Bloemfontein without informing the investigating officers.

The five, and Bester's partner Dr Nandipha Magudumana, are accused of assisting the escape of the rapist and murderer from Mangaung Correctional Centre in May last year.

A lawyer for Masukela told the court during the bail application his client was not involved in the crime.

“My client wasn't paid any money. He received no cent. No money was transferred into his account. He didn't benefit and knew nothing about this,” Masilo Koenana said.

Matsoara's attorney also denied his client received money from Bester.

An investigating officer, who is part of a team investigating Bester's escape and may not be named, urged the court not to grant the accused bail due to the seriousness of their alleged offences. 

He said their release could lead to “unrest”

Magudumana was initially among the group applying for bail but halted her application and instead filed an urgent application in the high court in Bloemfontein, seeking to declare her arrest and detention wrongful and unlawful.

Magudumana was arrested in April in Tanzania with Bester. She has been in custody since. 

In her court papers she said police had no court order with them that warranted her transportation from Tanzania to South Africa and no warrant for her arrest was issued. 

She wants the court to nullify and set aside the criminal proceedings before the Bloemfontein magistrate's court. She also wants the court to declare she is entitled to be released from prison.

Monday's matter was postponed to June 20 for police investigation.

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