“No one was looking for her”: Magudumana’s lawyer hits back at state

Fraud cases against Magudumana not relevant to bail application, says lawyer

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Nandipha Magudumana escorted by a police officer at the Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday. Photo: Becker Semela

  • Nandipha Magudumana’s lawyers argued that the state has not successfully shown that she should be denied bail.
  • Lawyers said there was no evidence that she would evade trial or interfere with witnesses.
  • They challenged the state’s argument that Magudumana had evaded police in the months after Thabo Bester’s escape, saying that the police only started looking for her on 17 March 2023.

Lawyers for Nandipha Magudumana argued in the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court on Wednesday that the state has failed to make a strong case in opposing her bail application.

Magudumana is accused of helping convicted murderer and rapist Thabo Bester escape from prison in May 2022. She has applied to be released on bail of R10,000.

Advocate Frans Dlamini, arguing for Magudumana, said that the evidence provided by the state, in the form of an affidavit made by a police officer, did not sufficiently prove that she would evade trial or interfere with state witnesses.

On Tuesday, the state argued that Magudumana had evaded police for 11 months before her arrest in Tanzania on 7 April 2023. But Dlamini said this was not true. The warrant for her arrest was only authorised on 17 March 2023.

“There was no warrant of arrest, no one was looking for the applicant,” Dlamini told the court. He questioned how Magudumana could have evaded the police when they had never tried to find her.

The state believed that Magudumana had an incentive to evade trial, because of pending criminal cases against her. In addition to the charges related to Bester’s escape, the pending cases include six fraud charges brought against her between February and April 2023 by members of the public.

But, argued Dlamini, Magudumana had not been approached by a single police officer regarding these cases. “The applicant has not been charged, arrested, or approached by police. These cases cannot be regarded as pending cases against the applicant. There are none,” Dlamini told the court.

Dlamini poked holes in the evidence the state claims to have against Magudumana. On Tuesday, the state said there was clear evidence that Magudumana had been a “mastermind” in Thabo Bester’s escape from prison in May 2022.

But Dlamini disputed this. He said that of the 16 charges on the charge sheet, the state had only been able to adduce evidence for 11 of them. He said that the evidence presented was weak.

He also argued that the state’s allegation in the charge sheet that Magudumana had paid R40,000 to prison camera technician Teboho Lipholo was not backed up with evidence. He said the evidence presented by the state was that Magudumana had paid R85,000 to prison warder Senohe Matsoara; there was no mention of money paid to Lipholo.

Dlamini also said the state had not successfully argued that Magudumana was a flight risk and had not been able to rebut Magudumana’s version of how she travelled to Tanzania against her will.

The bail application will resume on Monday, 4 September.

TOPICS:  Thabo Bester prison escape

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