My colleague, Deputy Minister, Mr Njabulo Nzuza
Commissioner of the Border Management Authority of South Africa Dr Nakampe Masiapato
Home Affairs officials in both Civic Services and Immigration; and let me apologise for the absence of the DG, Mr Tommy Makhode, who is attending a FOSAD meeting
Members of the public listening through various platforms
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for coming to our briefing as we plan to take you through the Home Affairs aspects in the Thabo Bester and Nandipha Magudumana's story.
When the story broke out in the Public, we looked into our system to find details about Thabo Bester.
Home Affairs has three (3) databases of people who are legally in South Africa:
- National Population Register (NPR)
- National Immigration Identity System (NIIS) and
- Visa Adjudication System (VAS)
NPR: Registers all births, marriages, deaths, IDs and passports for all South African citizens.
NIIS: Registers Asylum seekers and Refugees but unfortunately not their birth, death and marriage.
VAS: Registers everybody who come to South Africa via anyone of the 17 visas or permits.
In the NPR, we found only 2 (two) Thabo Besters. One is a young man of 19 years and hence was eliminated from the search process. The other is a man of 40 years whom we traced to Ratanda in Heidelberg. We actually visited him and found that he has already presented himself to Police when he heard that a Thabo Bester is wanted. Police confirmed that he was not the Thabo Bester who escaped from a Bloemfontein Correctional Services facility. The other two databases did not show any Thabo Bester either.
On hearing that Thabo Bester sometimes calls himself Thapelo Nkoana or TK Nkoana, we then switched our search to Thapelo Nkoana and the system revealed 16 names, none of which fitted the picture of the men who escaped from prison.
We were really stuck when we learned about a lady on TV who reported that she is Thabo Bester’s mother.
We paid her a visit and indeed she insisted that she is the mother of Thabo Bester and she gave birth to him at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital on the 13 June 1986. The archives at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital confirmed every fact she mentioned to us around Thabo’s birth.
In the National Population Register, Thabo’s mother only registered Thabo’s siblings but not Thabo.
It was found that she herself was born in 1965 but up until 2002 her birth was never registered and hence she never took an ID. She told us that her non-registration stemmed from the fact that her mother was working in the farms and her employer refused to let her go to register her.
Her mother passed on in May 2002 when she was 37 years old and then her aunt registered her two months after the death of her mother. She then assumed her aunt’s surname of Mabaso and also registered all her other kids on the surname of her aunt. She never registered Thabo Bester because at that time, Thabo had disappeared. He was only 16 years old when he disappeared.
Thabo never registered with Home Affairs at any stage of his life. Hence the only places his name is found is in Correctional Services and the South African Police Services.
In terms of Civil Registration, only Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital has his details which were captured 37 years ago. Thabo’s mother only met Thabo again when he was jailed in 2011.
From what we have said up to so far, Thabo never took an ID in Home Affairs, never got married in Home Affairs and never took a passport in Home Affairs. He simply does not exist in our systems.
The passport he was found carrying in Tanzania appears to be an American passport, in the name of Tom Williams Kelly, whether real, defrauded or forged we can’t tell. That passport never crossed any border at any official port of entry, whether air, sea or land.
THABO BESTER’S EDUCATION
Thabo’s mother gave us the name of the school which she said Thabo attended until standard 1 (Grade 3).
We visited this school – Laerskool Danie Theron in Kepler Park South of Johannesburg.
Thabo was admitted there on 14 January 1997 on the strength of his date of birth because as I have said, he has no birth certificate. His admission number was 5126.
Thabo left the school when he disappeared in 2002 and he was actually in standard 3 (Grade 5). He was never to be seen again until 2011 when he was arrested.
We will now come to Dr Nandipha Magudumana.
She was easily found on the National Population Register and took her first passport in 2007 at the age of 19.
This passport expired in 2017 and she was issued another one the same year and it is only due to expire in 2027.
Dr Nandipha left South Africa using this passport on the 9th of May 2022 via Beitbridge Border Post. She returned on the 12th of May 2022, this is, three days later via OR Tambo International Airport, from Bulawayo.
Since then she never used this passport to cross any official border post whether land, air or sea.
When she was caught in Tanzania she was found in possession of this passport and two other passports which both belong to a Dr Mmereka Patience Martha Ntshani.
One of these passports had expired on the 24th of July 2022 because it was issued to Dr Ntshani on 25th July 2012. As to why she carried an expired passport belonging to somebody else, beats us.
The second passport also belonging to Dr Ntshani found in the possession of Dr Nandipha Magudumana was issued on 10 July 2019 and is due to expire on the 9th July 2029.
The expired passport of Dr Tshani was last used on 26 December 2020 and was never used again until its expiry in 2022. The passport which she took in 2019 was used on a trip to Seychelles when she departed on 7 July 2022 and returned on the 13th July 2022. Up until now it was never used again.
Hence Dr Nandipha never assumed the identity of Dr Ntshani as it is being alleged. She just carried Dr Ntshani’s two passports, one of which had expired for reasons unknown to us.
Before we give you a chance to ask questions, let me explain to you that it is not illegal to have more than one passport.
There are people here in South Africa who carry a British passport and a South African passport because South Africa allows dual citizenship.
However, to carry more than one South African passport, you need to give cogent reasons to Home Affairs officials.
If you are applying for another passport when the existing one is still valid but lost, you need to depose an affidavit with the South African Police Service.
Dr Ntshani deposed an affidavit with the South African Police in 2019 and declared that her passport was stolen.
This is the passport which was still to expire in 2022 and was recently found in Tanzania on the person of Dr Nandipha. On the strength of this affidavit she acquired a new passport which as we said before, will only expire in 2029.
On the 27th of March 2023 she deposed another affidavit with the Police but this time stating that she gave her recent valid passport to Dr Nandipha and a Mr TK Nkoana (the assumed name of Thabo Bester) as they were going to apply for her for a working citizenship in the US.
On the 3rd of April (2023) she used this affidavit to apply for another passport, which has not been collected from Home Affairs.
THE MOZAMBICAN NATIONAL
We are not saying anything about him, we don’t know anything about him and was not even handed over to us when the others were being deported. Some publications are talking about a trio being deported and we wish to correct that. It is only two people that were handed over to Home Affairs officials who went to Tanzania.
ISSUED BY DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS