Lawyers withdraw from Thabo Bester’s case, new lawyer appointed

In yet another turn of events in the Thabo Bester saga, another set of lawyers representing him has decided to withdraw from the case, making this the second time that lawyers are withdrawing from the infamous convict’s case since his recapture in April.

Advocate Jeremiah Pela and instructing attorney Tsireledzi Ndou have officially withdrawn from the high-profile case of Thabo Bester, the convicted murderer and rapist. They had taken on his case after his first lawyers, Ishmail Attorneys, announced they’ve informed him of their withdrawal as attorneys on record.

The announcement came during a hearing at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, where Bester appeared remotely from the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Services in Pretoria, where he is currently detained.

This is not the first time Bester has changed lawyers, as seen in May when his legal team withdrew from the case. Following that, Advocate Pela was appointed to represent Bester. However, Pela has faced his own share of controversy after being implicated in an alleged bribery scandal involving tenders at Matheo TVET College in Bloemfontein. 

Meanwhile, recent reports have exposed Ndou’s involvement in charges of attempted rape and assault. Ndou, 27, has been granted bail of R1 000 and is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

During the hearing on Bester case withdrawal, Pela stated: “We had a discussion with our client, Mr Thabo Bester… there won’t be any further instruction from today for me and Mr Ndou. So, based on that, we did not get further instructions from the accused on this matter, and if the court is inclined, it is our humble request for the court to accept our application to be recused.”

The sudden withdrawal of Bester’s legal representatives has raised eyebrows and sparked speculation about the reasons behind their departure, leaving room for conjecture.

Following the departure of advocate Pela and Ndou, a new lawyer, Kabelo Matee, has been appointed to represent Bester. It is anticipated that Matee will diligently take up the case and provide robust legal representation for his client going forward.

In a request made by Bester himself, the court was informed that he wishes to appear physically for his next court hearing. However, until then, he will continue to remain in custody. The court subsequently granted the request, allowing Bester to attend the next court session in person.

As a result of the recent developments, the case against Bester has been postponed to August 8, 2023, to allow for further investigation. This postponement will provide ample time for the new legal representative, Matee, to acquaint himself with the intricacies of the case and build an effective defense strategy for his client.

Meanwhile, the case against seven individuals accused of assisting Bester in his escape from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in May last year has also been postponed to August 8.

Bester’s partner, Nandipha Magudumana, appeared alongside the accused in person at the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court on Tuesday. The attorney representing her father, Zolile Sekeleni, requested that his client be excused from attending the court session on August 8 due to the long distance he would have to travel. While the prosecution did not object, the court denied the application.

Sekeleni and another defendant, Natassja Jansen, are currently out on bail until the conclusion of the case.

The remaining accused individuals, including Zanda Moyo, a Zimbabwean national who was apprehended in Johannesburg last week and added as the ninth suspect, have been remanded in custody until their next court appearance. Moyo decided not to pursue bail.

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