Cold comfort for Facebook rapist

2013-04-06 00:00

ALTHOUGH a 50-year jail sentence imposed on the infamous “Facebook rapist” Thabo Bester (23) for attacks on two women in KwaZulu-Natal, was reduced by 20 years on appeal yesterday, the victory will bring him cold comfort.

This is because Bester — who is from Johannesburg — is already serving a life sentence for the murder of Johannesburg model and car salesperson Nomfundo Tyhulu in the Western Cape.

Bester was jailed for life by judges in the Cape last August for stabbing Tyhulu to death in a bed-and-breakfast establishment in Milnerton while they were holidaying together.

In the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, appeal judges Fikile Mokgohloa and Gregory Kruger agreed with Bester’s lawyer, Zina Anastasiou, that the 50-year jail term imposed on Bester for raping and robbing two women at knifepoint in the Durban area during August 2011 was shockingly severe and inappropriate.

The appeal court reduced sentences of 15 years’ imprisonment on each rape charge to the minimum prescribed term of 10 years. They ordered that the sentences should run concurrently with the total of 30 years’ imprisonment imposed on Bester in connection with the robbery.

Bester was dubbed the “Facebook rapist” because he lured one of his victims on the social networking site with the promise of a modelling contract.

He admitted in the Durban Regional Court that he posted a “model and presenter search” on the website in July 2011 to lure his victim and arranged to meet her in Johannesburg.

When they met, however, she was with her boyfriend and he then asked her to accompany him to Durban to do a photo shoot. “My original plan was to rob her of her cellphone and laptop,” he said.

Bester said they drove to Durban in the woman’s car and booked into a hotel in Umhlanga. While she took a bath, he went to the mall and bought duct tape and a small kitchen knife.

On his return she’d changed her clothes and asked him to show her “how to model”. While they were laughing he grabbed her and threw her on to the bed. She resisted and during a tussle was cut on her face by the knife.

Bester said he tied her up and started rummaging through her goods, and put her “stuff” into his bag.

As he was leaving he saw her legs and was “tempted sexually” into raping her.

He admitted that two weeks later he raped and robbed another woman who had been introduced to him by his girlfriend at a guesthouse in Westville. He also threatened her with a knife.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

SIDEBAR: One woman said in a victim impact statement before court that she’d turned to God for help and had forgiven Bester in order to move on with her life.

She said she was grateful that he did not kill her “even though he emotionally killed and destroyed me”.

The other woman said the attack had changed her behaviour. “I put so much faith and trust in this person and after it turned out the way it did, I am not able to trust again. Simple things, like getting a cab, is a scary and terrifying ordeal for me as I fear the person is not what they pretend to be and that they in fact want to attack and hurt me,” she said.

Her mother said of her daughter; “He has stolen more than just her trust. He has stolen all the innocence she had, the vibrant character and the extrovert that she was”.

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