Thabo Bester’s showdown with Showmax heads to court

The Johannesburg High Court will hear applications by convicted murderer and rapist Thabo Bester and the co-accused in his infamous prison escape, Nandipha Magadumana, seeking an order blocking Showmax from streaming a true crime documentary detailing their exploits.

The applications will be heard on Friday, 15 March 2024, the same date on which the first two episodes of the documentary — Tracking Thabo Bester — are set to start streaming.

In near-identical legal letters sent to MultiChoice last week, the pair demanded that they view the four-part documentary before its first episodes are released. MultiChoice refused to abide by their requests.

“Mr Bester and Dr Magudumana have each approached the High Court, trying to stop the documentary being seen because they say it threatens their rights,” MultiChoice said in a statement provided to MyBroadband.

“Showmax has briefed legal counsel and will be vigorously opposing the applications.”

MultiChoice said the allegations against Bester and Magudumana were incredibly serious, and Showmax strongly believed that it was essential for viewers to have the opportunity to watch the documentary and form their own informed opinions.

“Showmax is of the view that the attempt to stop Showmax from doing so is without any legal merit and breaches the constitutional rights of the public.”

In their letters to the company, they said they did not consent to the commercialisation of their names and wanted to view the show before it was aired.

Their lawyers also argued that streaming the series would prejudice the pending criminal trial, which is set to begin in June 2024. They argued that it would infringe on their clients’ rights to a fair trial.

Bester — who was nicknamed the Facebook rapist for luring his victims through the social media website — was sentenced to life in prison for rape and murder in 2012.

He was believed to have perished in a fire in his cell at the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein in 2022.

However, someone snapped a photo of a person who looked like Bester, who was out shopping with Magudamana in a Woolworths in Sandton in 2022.

Following GroundUp’s report about the sighting, speculation started that he might have faked his death and escaped jail.

Due to a slow reaction and investigation by the Department of Justice, Bester was able to flee the country with Magudamana.

They were tracked to Tanzania and apprehended following collaboration by law enforcement and private security company Fidelity ADT.

In its description of the series, Showmax said it would include details like why Bester was called the Facebook rapist and in jail originally, how Magudumana fell for a convicted criminal and left her children behind to go on the run with him to Tanzania, and who really died in Bester’s” cell.

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Thabo Bester’s showdown with Showmax heads to court