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HomeNews UpdateNoose tightens as doctor’s role in Bester escape uncovered

Noose tightens as doctor’s role in Bester escape uncovered

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is launching an investigation into Dr Nandipha Magudumana, lover of fugitive and convicted murderer Thabo Bester, both of whom were arrested in Tanzania this weekend, while police are also probing the doctor’s link to stolen bodies.

Bester became widely known as the “Facebook rapist” after it emerged he used the social media platform to lure attractive young women with promises to help them advance their modelling and entertainment careers. Instead, he raped, assaulted and robbed them.

He pleaded guilty to two charges of rape and one of murder in trials in 2011 and 2012 and was handed an effective life sentence.

HPCSA spokesperson Christopher Tsatsawane said after numerous media reports and allegations against Magudumana, who was suspended in 2021 for failing to renew her HPCSA annual fees, the council would carry out investigations, working with the police, Departments of Health, Home Affairs and Correctional Services “to ensure the investigation process is comprehensive”.

Speaking to News24, Tsatsawane said the HPCSA had previously temporarily suspended her registration and offered her an opportunity to pay.

However, the HPCSA investigation could be the least of the doctor’s problems.

TimesLIVE reports that weeks before fugitive Bester’s scam in which he “burnt to death” in his prison cell, Magudumana also allegedly stole three unidentified bodies from Free State mortuaries over several weeks.

Two were apparently earmarked for Bester’s previous failed prison break plans from Mangaung maximum security prison, managed by global company G4S. The third body, which was ultimately used as the decoy in Bester’s successful escape on 3 May last year, has still not been identified.

One body, which Magudumana obtained after claiming it was her father, was dumped in a river a week after she took possession of it, still with the mortuary’s identification toe tag attached.

Magudumana’s father, Zolile Sekeleni, and former G4S staffer Senohe Matsoara, appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Tuesday in connection with Bester’s escape and failed flight to freedom.

They have also been charged with murder in connection with the death of the unidentified man found in Bester’s cell.

While police declined to comment on the bodies, sources say Magudumana is definitely being investigated for stealing two bodies – one from the Mangaung state mortuary and another from a private mortuary – in early April.

The police investigation is also looking into how she was able to – as Bester’s “customary wife” – claim the charred body that was set alight in his cell as part of his escape ruse.

That body was burnt beyond recognition.

Despite an autopsy raising several red flags, including that there was no smoke inhalation, that the body was already in a state of decomposition and that the cause of death was blunt force trauma, Magudumana was allowed to take the body, which she then cremated.

Bester made his escape dressed as a warder after the body was smuggled into the prison, and stored in the centre’s kitchen for two days before it was placed in his cell and burnt.

A Free State Health Department source confirmed Magudumana was behind multiple body thefts.

“She first arrived at the Mangaung state mortuary claiming she was searching for a body. She was allowed to identify one through a catalogue of photographs kept at the morgue.”

He said they asked Magudumana to return within a few days so officials would have time to track down the corpse.

“She came back, identified the body, filled out the release forms, and left. She claimed it was her missing father, who was a truck driver.”

He said two weeks later they received a report that someone had drowned in Bloemspruit Dam, 11km away.

“It was only when we unwrapped the body that we discovered it had a Bloemfontein body death register tag, implying it had been kept here before.”

The number on the tag was still visible.

“We discovered it was the same body identified by Magudumana. We reported the matter to the police.”

He said they had not known what had happened until news broke of Bester’s escape and Magudumana’s involvement.

After the prison fire, the charred body identified by her as Bester’s, was taken to Molly’s Funeral Home in Mangaung and then to Sopema Funeral Services in Soweto on Magudumana’s instructions. It was subsequently seized by police and moved to the Hillbrow morgue, but on 24 May, after an urgent court application, it was released to Magudumana.

She then had it cremated it after what her lawyer Vuyo Manisi said was a “confidential out of court agreement” between her lawyers and police.

However, earlier, an email written on 12 May by Brigadie Jackson Mkhaulesi, head of the Free State organised crime unit, to a Lieutenant-Colonel Zwedzi of Orlando West detective branch, had requested urgent assistance to stop the cremation.

In his email, Mkhaulesi revealed the burnt body was “claimed and identified by a person who pretended to be a family member”.

“She identified the deceased as her biological father. Her name is Nandipha Magudumana. The body was released to her … On Tuesday, 10 May, the investigating officer discovered that she claimed two other bodies.”

The police source said: “A private parlour is being probed. Detectives are trying to establish how she came to have this body, to which she is not related and which she had no right to claim. She is being investigated for also falsely claiming the burnt body from the Mangaung state mortuary. It is not yet known where this body originally came from as it has been cremated.”

And in more drama, celebrity SA doctor Mmereka Ntshani, better known as Dr Pashy on her social media accounts, is seeking legal advice on allegations that Magudumana assumed her identity while on the run with Bester.

The anaesthesiologist and founder of the Dr Pashy Foundation claimed her passport, found in Magudumana’s possession at the time of the arrests, had been stolen.

On 27 March, Pashy stated that she had reported her passport stolen. On the same day, she applied for a new one and wrote in an affidavit that she needed it because she planned on going to the USA for work related to her company, Power Women International.

According to a report in Briefly, she said that before applying for a new passport, a “Mr TK Nkwana” (one of Bester’s aliases) had asked her for documents, fingerprints, ID and a police clearance certificate. Nkwana was apparently supposed to help her obtain a US working permit.

Pashy said she soon realised she had been scammed and stated in her affidavit that Bester and Magudumana had her documents and fingerprints and she wanted to avoid fraud committed in her name.

She has denied assisting the couple and issued a statement distancing herself from Magudumana. She said Bester’s girlfriend had been a guest speaker at an event organised by her foundation in 2020.

 

News24 article – HPCSA to investigate Dr Nandipha with the help of SAPS, home affairs and correctional services (Restricted access)

 

TimesLIVE article – Nandipha Magudumana ‘stole three bodies’ (Open access)

 

Briefly article – Thabo Bester Prison Escape: Dr Pashy Denies Getting Money from Dr Nandipha, but SA Thinks She Was Involved (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Sandton doctor linked to escaped ‘Facebook’ rapist not registered: HPCSA

 

‘DNA project’ nails serial killers, rapists, in KZN

 

UN condemns Nigerian rape law carrying castration and death penalties

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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