Thabo Bester, a South African fugitive, and his accomplice, Dr. Nandipha Magudumana, were arrested in Tanzania on Friday night, after a prolonged investigation and search. Bester escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre on 3 May 2022 by faking his death in a cell fire. Since then, he and Magudumana had been living in a rented mansion in Sandton, where they operated Arum Properties together, scamming several people into paying millions for construction projects that were never completed.
The Arrest of Thabo Bester
The Tanzanian police followed the fugitives in a black SUV as they left their hotel and were about to cross the Tanzanian border, presumably into Kenya. The criminals were found in the Arusha region, near the Kenyan border. They had several passports under different names, and none were stamped. This indicates that they were likely heading to another country. In addition, Magudumana claimed two other bodies from the Mangaung maximum-security prison, claiming to be the brother and father of the fugitive.
The Investigation on Thabo Bester
Fidelity ADT, a private security company, had assisted the police in hunting for the fugitives. CEO Wahl Bartmann put up R100,000 for information leading to their arrest. Tips led to the identification of the vehicle the couple was using, and the Fidelity Business Intelligence Centre traced the car using CCTV cameras. According to Bartmann, the couple left the country through the Zimbabwean border and fled to Tanzania, where they were apprehended.
The arrest of Thabo Bester and Dr. Nandipha Magudumana is a significant win for the South African authorities. Bester had been on the run for almost two months, and his capture sent a message that law enforcement agencies will not tolerate criminals who try to evade justice. The fact that Magudumana was found with multiple passports under different names also raises concerns about identity theft and fraud, highlighting the need for more robust measures to combat financial crime.
The arrest of Thabo Bester and Dr. Nandipha Magudumana is a reminder of the importance of cooperation between law enforcement agencies across borders. The South African authorities are confident they will receive maximum cooperation from Tanzania, and Bester and Magudumana will likely be deported to South Africa. Since she was in Tanzania illegally, Tanzanian authorities will advise on what needs to be done for Magudumana to be brought back to South Africa.