Dr Nandipha Magudumana is due to state her case at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court this morning in a bid to have her arrest declared illegal. Magudumana was arrested alongside her fugitive boyfriend, Thabo Bester, while heading toward the border of Kenya on April 7.
She is facing 12 charges linked to Bester’s escape from the G4S-run Mangaung Correctional Facility in the Free State.
Last month, Magudumana filed an urgent court application, claiming she was abducted. Government agencies have denied Magudumana’s allegations, saying she was arrested on South African soil.
The State said Magudumana was not arrested in Tanzania nor was she arrested during the flight or placed in handcuffs. The State added that she was not blindfolded at any point.
Speaking to eNCA, law expert Elton Hart said that while it was up to the court to decide, the State and Department of Home Affairs could argue the urgency of the application.
He said it would be advisable for the matter to be put to bed now rather than come up later in the trial.
Regarding the allegations that there were SA police officers present at the time of Magudumana and Bester’s arrests, Hart said that when Tanzanian officials handed the couple over to South African officials, it had been a matter purely between immigration departments.
Hart said the case hung on technicalities. He said Magudumana could pin her case on the process when she and Bester were taken from Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Airport to the Lanseria Airport.
“What do they call that? So there I think there might be technical arguments that detention and apprehension there are declared illegal. That’s where they might zoom in. Other than that, Nandipha doesn’t have a chance. If she can’t get her unlawful detention in that space of time, she has no case,” he said.
Hart said that having reviewed the documents of the arrest, the Tanzanians appeared to have covered themselves in how they did the process on their side until Kilimanjaro Airport.
“I think our people then tried to say that her being handed over to the secretary at Kilimanjaro, she’s on SA soil, that is not true. The mission is on South African soil, not Kilimanjaro Airport, so there’s another technical thing they might attack,” he said.
Hart said the response to the technicalities could be heard in court in due course. Magudumana will be represented by top advocate Anton Katz SC.
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