The South African government has set the wheels in motion for the deportation of fugitive Thabo Bester and his girlfriend, Dr Nandipha Magudumana.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola and his police counterpart Bheki Cele announced on Saturday afternoon that Bester and Magudumana, along with a Mozambican national, were arrested by police in Tanzania on Friday night.
“He was in a black SUV, three of them. They were stopped…by the police of Tanzania,” Cele said during a media briefing in Pretoria.
Cele said the trio were caught 10 kilometres away from the Kenyan border with multiple fake passports.
Lamola said he had already had a conversation with his justice counterpart, who promised cooperation between Tanzanian and South African authorities.
“We are confident that, indeed, the good mutual working relations we have with Tanzania will enable us to ensure that all the fugitives South Africa is looking for… can be brought back to South Africa as speedily as possible,” Lamola said.
A high-level South African delegation would depart for Tanzania on Sunday to ensure the pair were brought back to South Africa, including officials from the SA Police Service,
and justice and correctional services departments.
Lamola said the team would work closely with the SA High Commission to Tanzania to engage authorities in the east African country to ensure the pair were deported.
He clarified that they might not need to explore extradition, but might seek a clearer route of deportation.
“Extradition is what we are dealing with in the case of the Gupta brothers and Bushiri matters. Those (individuals) have been charged in our courts. They must undergo trial in South Africa,” Lamola said.
“The difference with the Bester matter [is] he has already been charged and convicted and escaped from prison. [So,] it becomes a clear case of deportation… so he can complete his sentence. There is no court process in Tanzania.”
The minister said Bester, Magudumana and the as-yet-unidentified Mozambican were in Tanzania illegally.
The full list of charges Bester’s accomplices will face is not yet known.
“Firstly, is that you will understand that she [Magudumana] helped Mr Bester to escape so that is the charge that she will face,” he said.
Lamola said police would announce any further charges.
Bester is a wanted fugitive following his elaborate escape from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein last year.
The criminal mastermind staged his own death and has been on the run with Magudumana.
Police recently raided a mansion in the plush suburb of Hyde Park in Johannesburg, where the two had been hiding out before they fled the country.
Bester was serving a life sentence for rape and murder.
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