Mastermind Behind the Scam: Convicted Rapist and Murderer Thabo Bester

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Thabo Bester

Thabo Bester, also known as the “Facebook rapist,” is a South African convicted criminal who gained notoriety for his criminal activities and escape from the Mangaung Correctional Centre. Bester used social media, particularly Facebook, to lure victims with fake job opportunities. He was sentenced to life imprisonment after pleading guilty to two rapes and one murder. In May 2022, Bester escaped from prison by faking his death in a fire in his cell, leading to a nationwide manhunt. After almost a year on the run, he was arrested in Arusha, Tanzania in April 2023, along with his partner, celebrity doctor Nandipha Magudumana.

Table of contents:

Early Life and Criminal Activities

This article will explore Bester’s criminal activities, his escape from prison, his life on the run, and the subsequent events leading to his arrest. It will also delve into his aliases, the lack of official South African citizenship, and the fraudulent media company he ran from prison. Stay tuned for more details on the fascinating story of Thabo Bester.

Thabo Bester, has gained notoriety for his criminal activities and con artistry. Throughout his criminal career, he used multiple aliases to evade the authorities. At the age of 19, Bester was imprisoned for two years for fraud but later broke his parole and committed heinous crimes. He raped two models and murdered his girlfriend, Nomfundo Tiyhulu. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to the rapes and, in 2012, he pleaded guilty to the murder. Bester received a life sentence for his crimes.

While in prison at the Mangaung Correctional Centre, a high-security facility managed by the security firm G4S, Bester ran a fraudulent media company called 21st Century Media. This company posed as a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox and garnered attention in 2018 for falsely advertising celebrities Taraji P. Henson and Halle Berry as event speakers. Bester, using the alias “Tom Motsepe,” presented himself as the chairman of the company, based in New York. He was able to lure talent from established media houses and gained an extensive digital presence under this alias.

The fraudulent media company, 21st Century Media, was registered in 2018 by Phumudzo Thenga, who also served as the sole director of multiple other companies mimicking well-known international corporations. These companies, including 21st Century Media, have since been deregistered. Thenga also registered “TM Financials,” another company closely associated with 21st Century Media. Bester, using the alias “Tom,” issued direct orders to employees while supposedly based in New York.

While incarcerated, Bester had access to a laptop and allegedly studied through Damelin, a private college. This access allowed him to run his business and even appear at an event via video link, posing as the chairman of 21st Century Media. The event, called “Women in Media,” turned out to be a scam after it was advertised with Hollywood stars such as Halle Berry and Taraji P. Henson as guest speakers. Attendees were unaware that the man appearing on the screen was Bester, speaking from prison.

Despite his criminal activities and escape from prison, Bester lived a lavish lifestyle during his time on the run. He and his partner, Nandipha Magudumana, resided in a rented mansion in Hyde Park, Johannesburg. Under the pseudonym TK Nkwana, Bester and Magudumana ran a scam property company called Arum Properties, convincing several individuals to pay deposits for construction projects that were never completed.

Bester’s criminal activities and escape from prison drew significant attention, and a manhunt was launched to bring him to justice. He was eventually apprehended in Arusha, Tanzania, on April 8, 2023, along with Magudumana. Both were deported back to South Africa and faced charges related to their crimes.

Thabo Bester’s Personal Information and Citizenship

Thabo Bester was born on June 13, 1986, at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa. However, despite being born in South Africa, Bester was never officially documented as a South African citizen by the Department of Home Affairs. This lack of official citizenship raises questions about his legal status and identity within the country.

In addition to his lack of official South African citizenship, it was discovered that Bester was found in possession of an American passport when he was arrested in Tanzania in April 2023. The passport was under the name Tom Williams Kelly, indicating that Bester had assumed multiple identities throughout his criminal career.

The possession of an American passport suggests that Bester may have engaged in fraudulent activities related to his identity and citizenship. It remains unclear how Bester obtained the American passport and whether it was used for illegal purposes.

It is worth noting that the Department of Home Affairs has taken steps to address Bester’s lack of official citizenship. In May 2023, Bester was officially issued an ID document by the Department of Home Affairs, signifying his recognition as a South African citizen. This development raises questions about the processes and oversight within the Department of Home Affairs that allowed Bester to evade official citizenship for an extended period.

Thabo Bester in Court

Imprisonment and Escape

Thabo Bester was incarcerated at the Mangaung Correctional Centre, a high-security prison managed by the security firm G4S. During his time in prison, Bester ran a fraudulent media company known as 21st Century Media. He posed as the chairman of the company, using the alias “Tom Motsepe” and claiming to be related to businessman Patrice Motsepe. Bester was able to deceive employees and lure talent from established media houses by presenting himself as an executive with 21st Century Fox and Sky Digital. He even appeared at a glamorous media event via video link, where he addressed attendees as the chairman of 21st Century Media.

While running his fraudulent media company, Bester gained notoriety in 2018 for organizing a scam event called the “Women in Media” conference. The conference falsely advertised Hollywood stars Halle Berry and Taraji P. Henson as guest speakers, leading to its cancellation and legal action from the real 21st Century Fox. The event took place at the Hilton Hotel in Sandton and was attended by members of Johannesburg’s high society, including celebrities like Amanda Du Pont and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.

Bester’s ability to run a multimillion-rand scam business from prison raises questions about the level of oversight within the correctional facility. Officials from the Mangaung Correctional Centre, G4S, and the Department of Correctional Services have faced criticism for their lack of responsiveness and cooperation during the investigation into Bester’s escape.

On May 3, 2022, Bester successfully escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre by faking his death in a fire in his prison cell. Authorities initially declared his death as a suicide, but doubts were raised by journalists from the South African news agency GroundUp. They uncovered evidence suggesting that Bester had faked his own death and escaped from prison. The investigating judge for Correctional Services, Edwin Cameron, later confirmed that he had leaked information to GroundUp.

Nandipha Magudumana

In a twist, Bester’s alleged partner and accomplice, Dr. Nandipha Magudumana, filed a court case claiming the body thought to be Bester’s was actually her “customary law husband.” This body was later identified as someone else, Katlego Bereng Mpholo, who had gone missing in April 2022. The Department of Correctional Services eventually admitted that Bester had indeed escaped, and private security firm Fidelity offered a reward for information leading to his arrest.

After his escape, Bester lived in a rented mansion in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, with Magudumana. The couple ran a scam property company called Arum Properties, which convinced several people to pay deposits for construction projects that were never completed.

Bester’s life on the run came to an end on April 7, 2023, when he and Magudumana were arrested in Tanzania. They were subsequently deported back to South Africa and arrived on April 14, 2023. Bester was officially issued an ID document by the Department of Home Affairs in May 2023, and he was added to the National Population Register. The investigation into his escape continues, and multiple individuals, including G4S employees, have been charged in connection with the case.

Life on the Run

Thabo Bester, also known as the “Facebook rapist,” lived a life on the run after his escape from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in May 2022. He resided in a rented mansion in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, with his partner and alleged accomplice, Dr. Nandipha Magudumana. Together, they ran a scam property company called Arum Properties, which convinced people to pay deposits for construction projects that were never completed. During their time on the run, Bester and Magudumana were photographed shopping together in Sandton and were involved in various legal proceedings and arrests. Finally, on April 7, 2023, they were arrested in Tanzania and subsequently deported back to South Africa. Bester was officially issued an ID document by the Department of Home Affairs in May 2023, and additional arrests were made in connection with his escape. Throughout their time on the run, Bester and Magudumana faced ongoing legal battles and investigations, revealing the extent of their criminal activities and the involvement of others in their escape.

May 2022: Bester moves into a rented property in Coleraine Park, Johannesburg.

In May 2022, after escaping from the Mangaung Correctional Centre, Thabo Bester moved into a rented property in Coleraine Park, Johannesburg. This property served as his hideout while he was on the run from the authorities. Bester had been living a life of luxury, residing in a mansion in Hyde Park with his partner, Nandipha Magudumana. The couple had been running a scam property company called Arum Properties, where they convinced people to pay deposits for construction projects that were never completed.

During his time in Coleraine Park, Bester continued to evade capture and maintain a low profile. It was during this period that he was reportedly seen shopping at a supermarket in Sandton with Magudumana. The sighting of Bester and Magudumana together raised suspicions and added to the ongoing investigation into their whereabouts. Bester’s movements and activities during his time in Coleraine Park would later be revealed as part of the investigation into his escape and criminal activities.

June 2022: Bester and Magudumana are photographed shopping together at a supermarket in Sandton.

In June 2022, Thabo Bester and his girlfriend, Dr. Nandipha Magudumana, were spotted together at a supermarket in Sandton, Johannesburg. This photograph emerged in March 2023 as part of a GroundUp report, revealing that Bester had escaped from prison. The photo shows Bester with long hair and sunglasses, appearing relaxed during the shopping trip.

This sighting of Bester and Magudumana together in public raised questions about the level of surveillance and law enforcement efforts to capture Bester, who was on the run after his escape. The photograph provided evidence of their continued relationship and the ability of Bester to move freely in public without detection. This discovery added to the growing controversy and public outrage surrounding Bester’s escape and the alleged assistance he received during his time on the run.

October 2022: A Cape Town woman shares her experience of meeting and having a sexual encounter with Bester.

In October 2022, a woman from Cape Town came forward and shared her experience of meeting and having a sexual encounter with Thabo Bester. The woman revealed that she met Bester in Cape Town after being contacted by him for a modeling opportunity. Bester, using the alias Katlego or KC, took her on a lavish date and introduced himself as a director of Arum Properties. They went to popular venues in Cape Town, such as Cubana and Bilboa, along with two other women who were with Bester.

The woman stated that during their encounter, Bester mentioned various opportunities in the modeling industry, international trips, and property shoots. However, she later realized the true identity of Bester and his criminal history, leaving her shocked, scared, and disgusted. She expressed feeling panicked and described the encounter as a form of rape, considering Bester’s criminal past. This revelation further highlighted Bester’s ability to deceive and manipulate individuals, using fake aliases and fraudulent promises to exploit his victims.

March 2023: GroundUp publishes an exposé revealing that Bester escaped from prison in May 2022.

In March 2023, GroundUp, a South African news agency, published an exposé revealing the truth about Thabo Bester’s escape from prison in May 2022. The article shed light on the suspicious circumstances surrounding Bester’s supposed death in a fire in his prison cell and provided evidence that suggested he had faked his own death to evade capture. The exposé raised questions about the competence and oversight of prison officials, as well as the possible involvement of G4S, the security firm that managed the Mangaung Correctional Centre.

The publication of this exposé marked a turning point in the investigation into Bester’s escape, as it brought the truth to light and exposed the flaws in the prison system. It also generated public outrage and intensified the pressure on the authorities to apprehend Bester and hold those responsible for his escape accountable. The article provided a comprehensive account of the events leading up to Bester’s escape and highlighted the need for reforms in the correctional system to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

April 7, 2023: Bester and Magudumana are arrested in Tanzania.

On April 7, 2023, Thabo Bester and his partner Dr. Nandipha Magudumana were arrested in Tanzania. The couple had been on the run for almost a year after Bester’s escape from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in May 2022. Tanzanian authorities apprehended them, leading to their subsequent deportation back to South Africa several days later on April 14, 2023. Bester and Magudumana were arrested on charges related to Bester’s escape, including aiding and abetting, murder, violation of bodies, and fraud.

The arrest in Tanzania marked a significant development in the ongoing investigation into Bester’s escape and his criminal activities. It highlighted the international reach of Bester’s operations and the collaboration between law enforcement agencies to apprehend him. The arrest also raised questions about the extent of Bester’s network and the support he received during his time on the run.

The arrest and subsequent deportation of Bester and Magudumana back to South Africa brought the couple back into the custody of South African authorities. It provided an opportunity for further interrogation and investigation into their involvement in Bester’s escape and their alleged criminal activities. The arrests in Tanzania marked a major breakthrough in the case and brought the authorities one step closer to holding Bester and Magudumana accountable for their actions.

April 14, 2023: Bester and Magudumana are deported from Tanzania and arrive back in South Africa.

On April 14, 2023, Thabo Bester and his partner, Dr. Nandipha Magudumana, were deported from Tanzania and returned to South Africa. The couple had been arrested in Arusha, Tanzania, on April 7th and were subsequently detained before their deportation. The South African authorities successfully facilitated their return to the country.

Bester and Magudumana’s deportation marked a significant development in the case surrounding Bester’s escape from the Mangaung Correctional Centre. Their arrest and subsequent deportation provided an opportunity for the South African authorities to bring them back into custody and continue the legal proceedings against them. The return of the couple also allowed for further investigations into their alleged involvement in Bester’s escape and other criminal activities.

The deportation highlighted the international cooperation between South Africa and Tanzania in apprehending and returning fugitives. It demonstrated the commitment of both countries to combatting crime and ensuring that individuals involved in serious offenses face justice. The arrival of Bester and Magudumana back in South Africa marked a crucial step in the legal process and set the stage for the ongoing trials and investigations into their actions.

8 May 2023: Bester is officially issued an ID document by the Department of Home Affairs.

In May 2023, Thabo Bester, the notorious Facebook rapist who had escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre, was officially issued an ID document by the Department of Home Affairs. This marked the first time that Bester had been officially documented as a South African citizen. The ID document was issued to Bester after an internal investigation confirmed his birth at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto on 13 June 1986.

Prior to receiving his ID document, Bester had been using false identities and had never been registered on the National Population Register. The lack of official citizenship for Bester had raised questions about his legal status and the Department of Home Affairs came under scrutiny for its failure to properly document Bester. However, with the issuance of the ID document, Bester now had a legal identity in South Africa.

May 22, 2023: Bester is added to the National Population Register and given an ID document.

Thabo Bester

On May 22, 2023, Thabo Bester was officially added to the National Population Register and issued an ID document by the Department of Home Affairs. This marked a significant development in Bester’s legal status, as he had previously not been officially documented as a South African citizen. Although Bester was born at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital on June 13, 1986, he was never registered on the National Population Register, and it was discovered that he did not have a South African ID document. However, following his arrest and deportation from Tanzania, the Department of Home Affairs rectified this oversight and provided Bester with the necessary identification.

This step by the Department of Home Affairs recognized Bester’s existence as a South African citizen and granted him the rights and privileges associated with official citizenship. It also marked a significant development in the legal proceedings against Bester, as having an ID document would enable authorities to properly identify and track him. This would be crucial for any future legal proceedings and would ensure that Bester’s actions as a fugitive could be appropriately addressed within the South African justice system.

June 12, 2023: Another suspect is arrested in connection with Bester’s escape.

On June 12, 2023, another suspect was arrested in connection with Thabo Bester’s escape from the Mangaung Correctional Centre. This arrest brings the total number of people arrested in relation to Bester’s escape to 12. The suspect’s identity and specific involvement in the escape have not been disclosed. This arrest highlights the ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Bester’s escape and the efforts to hold all individuals involved accountable for their actions.

The arrest of this additional suspect indicates that authorities are actively pursuing any potential accomplices or individuals who may have assisted Bester in his escape. It demonstrates the determination of law enforcement to thoroughly investigate the case and ensure that all parties involved in the escape are brought to justice. As the investigation progresses, further details may emerge regarding this suspect’s role and their connection to Bester’s escape. The arrest serves as a reminder of the complexity of the case and the ongoing efforts to uncover the full extent of Bester’s criminal network and the support he received during his time on the run.

June 14, 2023: Tshireledzo Ndou, Bester’s former attorney, is arrested for attempted rape and assault.

On June 14, 2023, Tshireledzo Ndou, a former attorney for Thabo Bester, was arrested for attempted rape and assault. Ndou had previously represented Bester during his criminal proceedings and escape from prison. The arrest came after a victim reported an alleged sexual assault by Ndou. The victim claimed that Ndou had attempted to rape her and physically assaulted her during the incident.

Ndou’s arrest added another layer of controversy to the already high-profile case of Thabo Bester. The arrest raised questions about the individuals involved in Bester’s defense and their potential involvement in criminal activities. It also highlighted the serious nature of the allegations against Ndou and the impact his actions had on the victim.

The arrest of Ndou further emphasized the need for a thorough investigation into all individuals connected to Bester’s criminal activities and escape. It underscored the importance of ensuring that justice is served for all victims involved in the case, both those directly affected by Bester’s crimes and those affected by the actions of others connected to the case.

June 27, 2023: Three G4S employees are arrested for allegedly aiding Bester’s escape.

On June 27, 2023, three employees of G4S, the security firm responsible for the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein, were arrested for their alleged involvement in aiding Thabo Bester’s escape from prison. The employees were accused of assisting Bester in faking his death and providing him with the means to escape.

The arrest of these employees brings the total number of individuals arrested in connection with Bester’s escape to twelve, including Bester himself. The arrests highlight the potential involvement of prison staff in the elaborate escape, raising questions about the security and integrity of the correctional facility.

The investigation into Bester’s escape and the involvement of G4S employees is ongoing, with further details yet to be revealed. The arrest of these individuals highlights the seriousness of the situation and the determination of law enforcement agencies to bring all those responsible for aiding Bester to justice.

July 3, 2023: Thabang Mier is granted bail

On July 3, 2023, Thabang Mier, one of the accused who assisted Thabo Bester in his escape, was granted bail. Mier was charged with aiding the escape of a prisoner. The state prosecutor, Sello Matlhoko, confirmed that Mier was granted bail in the amount of R10,000. The decision to grant bail was based on Mier’s lack of previous convictions or pending matters.

As part of the bail conditions, Mier had to surrender his passport to the investigating officer. This information was placed on record in court. The state prosecutor did not oppose Mier’s bail application, as he met the necessary criteria for bail.

The granting of bail to Mier is another development in the ongoing legal proceedings surrounding Thabo Bester’s escape. The case has attracted significant attention and scrutiny, and Mier’s bail adds another layer of complexity to the overall legal proceedings. The investigation and court proceedings continue as more individuals are held accountable for their involvement in Bester’s escape.

August 8, 2023: Stolen Items Upon Return to South Africa

On August 8, 2023, Thabo Bester’s lawyers informed the court that valuable items were stolen upon their return to South Africa from Tanzania. These stolen items include luxury brand clothes, cash, and cellphones. The lawyers reported the theft and opened a case at the Lanseria Airport Police Station. This incident adds another twist to the already complex and sensational story surrounding Bester’s escape and capture.

The stolen items further highlight the high-profile and extravagant lifestyle that Bester and his partner, Dr. Nandipha Magudumana, had been living while on the run. It is indicative of the luxurious and lavish lifestyle they were able to enjoy during their time in hiding. The stolen items likely add to the ongoing investigation and legal proceedings surrounding Bester’s escape and his subsequent activities while evading capture. The court will likely take this information into consideration as they continue to assess the full extent of Bester’s actions and the potential involvement of others in his escape and criminal activities.

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