Bester’s court appearance sparks outrage over justice system

The casual demeanour displayed by convicted criminal Thabo Bester and his partner Nandipha Magudumana during their court appearance on Tuesday has ignited a firestorm of criticism aimed at the country’s criminal justice system.

Bester and Magudumana made a brief appearance at the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court alongside 10 other suspects accused of aiding the convicted murderer and rapist escape from his Mangaung prison cell in May of last year.

The scene of exquisite affection and shared smiles between Bester and Magudumana, coupled with their apparent ease in the presence of law enforcement, has been met with strong condemnation from various quarters.

Herman Mashaba, ActionSA’s president, expressed his concerns about the perceived leniency shown to the accused individuals, particularly given the serious nature of their charges.

He stated that the scene portrayed a mockery of justice, stating that the way the couple was treated reflects a disturbing trend in which criminals seem to be granted more privileges than law-abiding citizens and victims of crime.

“Bester, who is guilty of two counts of rape and murder, also entered the court with expensive clothing and without any handcuffs – despite being found to be a high flight risk and already serving time at correctional facilities.

“That is why ActionSA believes their appearance again highlights how criminals in South Africa appear to have more rights than law-abiding citizens and the victims of crime. Their appearance before the court sets a poor example for those following the proceedings, sending the message to thousands that crime in South Africa pays.

“How can the country begin to turn around our disastrous crime rate when convicted criminals and accused are not treated with the severity of the crimes for which they are accused? It is the ANC which has allowed the country to descend into a situation where criminals are not afraid of going to prison,” Mashaba said.

Mashaba contends that criminals should be treated as such, criminals should not be coddled.

He said: “As a party which values the rule of law, ActionSA believes that prisoners should not be indulged, but should be subjected to the consequences of their actions.”

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