It has been a bleak 35th birthday for corruption and fraud accused Nandipha Magudumana as she spent the better part of Monday with her feet chained and fighting for her release on bail.
Magudumana was in the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court for closing arguments in her bid to be released on bail after her arrest in Tanzania earlier this year.
Magudumana, her father and other co-accused face a number of charges related to the escape of rapist and murderer Thabo Bester, Magudumana’s boyfriend, from Mangaung prison last year.
Nine of her co-accused have been granted bail by different courts, while Bester and another accused abandoned their bids.
Her bail application kicked off last week on Tuesday and was set down for two days. During that time she gave reasons why she should be granted bail while claiming she had not left the country voluntarily.
Her defence also denied claims she was a flight risk, while labelling the evidence the state relied on in arguing against granting Magudumana bail poor and unsubstantiated.
The prosecution refuted her claims in its opposing affidavit compiled by investigating officer Lt-Col Tieho Flyman.
The state said there was a likelihood Magudumana, if released on bail, would attempt to evade trial as there are criminal cases registered against her.
Monday saw one of Magudumana’s lawyers, Machini Motloung, make the defence’s closing arguments in the place of Frans Dlamini, who was unavailable. The state also presented its closing arguments opposing bail.
Magudumana cut a sombre figure as Motloung spent about two hours arguing his case, keeping her legs crossed throughout proceedings.
The only comfort at hand for the mother of two on her special day was the presence of her father, fellow accused Zolile Sekeleni, and her two siblings who all sat quietly at the back of the court.
She briefly clasped the hands of her brother and sister after they approached the box to greet her during a brief adjournment.
Before Motloung could address the court, prosecutor Sello Matlhoko submitted a letter from the Free State director of public prosecutions (DPP) addressing the issue of the schedule of one of the offences Magudumana faces.
“The court shall note that in the beginning of proceedings the state and defence agreed in terms of the applicable schedule, schedule 5. The matter has since proceeded in terms of that agreement. But the court shall note that only during his address, Dlamini placed an issue on the aspect of a schedule and he gave reasons for that.
“I have since obtained a written confirmation wherein the DPP confirmed this is schedule five,” he said.
The state has charged Magudumana with schedule 5 offences, which means she bears the burden of showing it is in the interests of justice that she be released on bail. Her team last week disputed that, insisting her charges fall under schedule 1, which places this burden on the state.