On Thursday, 4 May, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) confirmed it would no longer be pursuing murder charges against the accused persons in the Thabo Bester escape case after the investigating team presented new evidence.
NEW EVIDENCE PRESENTED: NPA
On Wednesday, six of the accused individuals appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court, and reports emerged that the State was no longer charging some of them with murder.
NPA spokesperson in the Free State Phaladi Shuping said that at this early stage, prosecutors could only bring charges based on the evidence presented by investigators.
“The current investigation reveals that there was a post-mortem report that was performed on the body of the unidentified deceased person found in cell 35 at Mangaung Correctional Centre, and the cause of death was registered as unnatural death,” said Shuping.
Earlier reports suggested the body, which had been set alight in Thabo Bester’s Mangaung Correctional Centre prison cell, had died of blunt force trauma to the head.
The body has since been identified as Katlego Bereng, a Bloemfontein man who went missing prior to the convicted rapist and murderer’s escape on 3 May 2022.
UNNATURAL DEATH STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION
Shuping said the cause of Bereng’s unnatural death was still under investigation, and there was insufficient evidence for the NPA to charge anyone with murder at the moment, hence the withdrawal of charges.
“The NPA does not conduct investigations and therefore has to engage with the SAPS to ensure that all the required evidence is included in the docket.
“The NPA will work closely with the SAPS to ensure that they prioritise getting the required additional evidence so that we can include a broader range of charges as appropriate,” said the NPA spokesperson.
Bester’s lover Dr Nandipha Magudumana and five others return to the Bloemfontein Court on 11 and 12 May for a bail application.
Bester himself and Magudumana’s father, Zolile Cornelius Sekeleni, who is out on R10 000 bail, are due back in court on 16 May.