Cuffs irk Bester and Magudumana as he claims ‘inhumane treatment’ in jail and says luxury items are missing
Prison escapee Thabo Bester intends to make an application to the high court over his living conditions at Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Facility in Pretoria, and wants to know the whereabouts of luxury items seized from him during his arrest.
The convicted rapist and murderer made a physical appearance in the Bloemfontein magistrate's court on Tuesday following a request by his new lawyer.
He reunited with his girlfriend nearly four months after their dramatic capture in Arusha, Tanzania during the Easter weekend.
He joined 11 accused arrested in connection with his audacious escape from Mangaung prison in May last year, seven of them current or former employees of the security company G4S.
Nine of the accused have successfully applied for bail. Dr Nandipha Magudumana abandoned her bail bid to challenge her arrest and detention.
Bester and accused No 9 abandoned their bail bids. The defence for accused No 8, Natassja Jansen, told the court his mandate had been terminated and put in a request to formally withdraw from the matter.
Proceedings kicked off with the state confirming it would request a “final remand” of the matter to allow it to complete its investigation.
“We have also canvassed the issue of the date and agreed on October 11 for investigations,” said prosecutor Sello Matlhoko.
Bester's new lawyer, Peter Matee, addressed the court to place on record issues raised by his client.
“Firstly that he has been inhumanely treated at Kgosi Mampuru correctional centre. He says he spends 23 hours a day cuffed and in his cell.
I can place it on record that before these proceedings I went to see the fifth accused in the court cells and he was handcuffed, even though he was locked up in a holding cellThabo Bester's lawyer Peter Matee
“I can place it on record that before these proceedings, I went to see the fifth accused in the court cells and he was handcuffed, even though he was locked up in a holding cell,” Matee said.
He said Bester intended to take the matter to the high court.
Bester also raised issue with the “lengthy” list of luxurious items that went missing at the time of his arrest. The convict was nabbed with Magudumana close to the Kenyan border.
Among these are two iPhones, two Samsung smartphones, two laptops, Burberry cuff holders, sunglasses, a wedding ring, an assortment of luxury watches worth millions and currency from different countries.
Matee said the missing items were reported missing at Lanseria police station but was unable to provide a case number.
Another lawyer to speak out about the alleged poor treatment of their client was Magudumana's representative, Machini Motloung, who also raised issue with the poor manner of her transportation to the court ahead of Tuesday's appearance.
Magudumana's lawyer said the way his client was transported “had all the ingredients of indignity and inhumanity”.
He claimed she was handcuffed in the back of a police van and when she questioned the manner in which she was being transported, she was told it was based on an instruction “from above”.
“This type of treatment is unbecoming and violates her right to the prerequisite treatment,” he said.
Motloung indicated that the matter was raised with the police captain in charge of the holding cells, who assured him it would not happen again.
Matlhoko said the state noted the complaints raised.
The court also heard a state witness had reached out to two of the accused on social media since they were granted bail. One of the conditions for their release on bail was that they not interact with state witnesses. Matlhoko agreed to remind witnesses to not interact with any of the accused.
The matter was postponed to October 11.
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