The stormy tale of love, murder, deception and corruption chronicled in Thabo Bester documentary

Showmax has just dropped the trailer for Tracking Thabo Bester, produced by IdeaCandy. Picture: Supplied

Showmax has just dropped the trailer for Tracking Thabo Bester, produced by IdeaCandy. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 11, 2024


South Africans are waiting with bated breath for the premiere of the true-crime documentary “Tracking Thabo Bester” which tells the gripping story of prison escapee Thabo Bester, one of the most talked-about subjects in the country.

Showmax recently released the trailer for the doccie, following the revelation that the convicted murderer and rapist did not burn to death in Cell 35 after all, but was shopping at Woolworths in Sandton City instead.

When GroundUp broke the news about Bester and Dr. Nandipha Magudumana, it sparked interest not only in South Africa but also internationally, with the public eager to learn more about the improbable story.

Bester was the most searched-for person in South Africa on Google in 2023, with his co-accused, Magudumana, following closely in fourth place for their turbulent tale of love, murder, deceit, and corruption.

Their four-part investigation is set to premiere in two parts on Showmax on March 15 and 22, 2024.

Nikki Comninos, who made her Showmax Original debut as a director, speaking about the documentary, raised concerns about what was happening with the South African prison system.

Comninos is again at the helm of tracking Thabo Bester, a convict running a media business from jail where he was also serving time for rape.

“We tend to discuss Thabo Bester like it’s an isolated case, but it’s clearly not,” says Comninos.

“Bester has been depicted as some kind of anomaly for being able to run a business while incarcerated, but so did Dawie de Villiers—also a convicted rapist who lured his victims online—at a completely different prison. This raises questions about what is happening with the South African prison system.”

Her remarkable work as director has seen her bag three SAFTA nominations in the past two years for her work editing Steinheist, Devilsdorp, and Murder in Paris.

The first episode of this documentary follows GroundUp journalists Marecia Damons and Daniel Steyn as they look into an anonymous tip-off about the burnt body at Mangaung Correctional Centre - that it was someone other than Thabo Bester as purported.

Damons and Steyn went on to win the prestigious Nat Nakasa Award and share the Vodacom Journalist of the Year award for breaking the shocking story and revealing fascinating plot twists. They also co-authored the best-selling book, The Thabo Bester Story: The Facebook Rapist, the Celebrity Doctor, and the Escape from Cell 35.

Subsequent episodes look at why Bester was called the Facebook rapist and why he was in jail in the first place; how a celebrity doctor fell for a convicted criminal and left her children behind to go on the run with the convict to Tanzania; and who really died in Cell 35.

Interviewees include prisoners and prison warders at Mangaung Correctional Centre; the family of Katlego Bereng Mpholo, whose body it was that was found in Cell 35; Nkosinathi Sekeleni, Nandipha’s older brother; and former South African Police Service head profiler Dr. Gérard Labuschagne, who interviewed Bester after his 2012 arrest for rape and murder. The documentary also shows the media and social media reactions to the story.

Saturday Star

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