Unveiling the Intriguing Tale of Thabo Bester: Scams, Property Fraud, and a Daring Prison Escape
Thabo Bester, a convicted killer and rapist, has been linked to a series of notable events, including a glamorous media company, a property scam, and a audacious prison escape. Bester's history is filled with scams and fraud, with his first conviction for fraud occurring when he was just 16 years old. In 2006, he served two years behind bars before being released on parole. However, Bester's most audacious act came to light this year, nearly a year after he walked out of Mangaung Prison in May 2022. His escape was orchestrated with the help of his married lover and medical doctor, Nandipha Magudumana, as well as prison officials whom he allegedly paid up to R40,000. The question arises: How did Bester, who spent a decade in prison, amass enough wealth to bribe his way to freedom? Let's delve into the story of how Bester accumulated his fortune behind bars.
Running a Glamorous Media Company from Jail
Bester was no ordinary inmate. With nothing to lose after receiving a life sentence at the age of 25, he managed to convince prison officials that he needed a personal laptop for his studies at a prominent private college. This is where 21st Century Media was born. Bester cleverly created the illusion that the company was a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox, an American film studio owned by Disney. Reports suggest that the company was responsible for organizing the 'Women in Media' conference. To carry out the scam, Bester adopted a new persona, calling himself Tom Motsepe, the company chairman based in New York. In reality, he was still incarcerated. The company was registered under the sole directorship of Phumudzo Thenga, who became implicated in the Bester scam. Her lawyers clarified that Bester, posing as Tom Motsepe, had reached out to her on Instagram in 2017, claiming to be related to the Motsepe family and expressing interest in her community work in the UK and America. From there, Bester made various business proposals, including the creation of 21st Century Media. He allegedly made millions through this elaborate scheme.
Women in Property Scam
Bester and his partner, Nandipha, also engaged in another fraudulent operation, operating a construction company named Arum Properties. They targeted affluent businesswomen, enticing them to invest in their construction projects and collecting millions of rands without ever delivering on their promises. During this time, Bester used the alias TK Nkwana. Reports indicate that he conducted video calls and closed business deals with his victims while incarcerated at Mangaung Correctional Centre, all without arousing suspicion. After his escape, Bester utilized a fake driver's license and ID to sign documents. Some individuals who almost fell victim to the scam had met 'Nkwana' in July 2022, where he offered to fly them to Cape Town for a photoshoot in houses allegedly being renovated by Arum Properties. Detecting something amiss, they declined the offer. In August 2022, Arum Properties hosted a Women in Property brunch at Nandipha's rented mansion in Hyde Park, attracting businesswomen who were offered construction and renovation services at significantly lower prices than competitors. However, clients soon realized that the administrative processes were sluggish, with unauthorized line items added to invoices and numerous delays. The actual construction work was outsourced to subcontractors, resulting in minimal progress.
Flashing Illusory Wealth
Following his arrest, Bester's lawyers claimed that his assets, valued at over R3 billion, had been seized. The list of assets included 14 cars, such as a R9.5 million Mercedes-Maybach GLS600, a R7 million Bentley Bentayga W12, and a R9 million Bentley Continental GT V8. Bester also alleged that his million-dollar bank accounts had been frozen by the Assets Forfeiture Unit. However, this was never confirmed by the banks or the police. According to a Sunday Times report, the couple rented multiple high-end properties in Hyde Park, Sandown, and Morningside, paying exorbitant monthly rents of up to R175,000. Bester even left behind his R1.5 million watch when he disappeared with Nandipha from their rented mansion, as they were being sought by the police. Bester, along with Nandipha, her father, and nine other suspects who allegedly aided in his prison escape, will face trial next year.
Thabo Bester's tale is one that intertwines audacity, deception, and calculated manipulation. As the legal proceedings unfold, the full extent of his illicit activities will be revealed, shedding light on a story that captivated the nation.