“Facebook rapist” Thabo Bester does not know why he killed model Nomfundo Tyhulu, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday. Taking the stand in a tracksuit, Bester poured out his heart over Tyhulu, saying she was the only one who had stood by him when people accused him of crimes in Durban.
“She was a good friend... I knew her family. She was a good person. She believed in me,” he said in mitigation of sentence. Bester, 23, revealed on Monday that he met Tyhulu, 23, at a Sandton, Johannesburg BMW dealership in January 2011, where she sold him a new car.
They started a long-distance relationship two months later and flew to Cape Town together in September for a holiday. He pleaded guilty on Monday to robbing and killing her, following an argument at a Cape Town bed-and-breakfast on September 21. He stabbed her in the chest and fled with her cellphone and laptop.
Today, he elaborated, saying they flew to Cape Town to meet someone who was going to invest in Bester’s business. He told the court he had been running an events-hosting business, earning about R15,000 a month. Asked repeatedly by the State why he killed someone close to him, he could not come up with an answer.
He said his first thought was that stabbing Tyhulu might bring him some money from her possessions. Eventually, he uttered: “I made a mistake and took her life”.
Bester is a father to three girls, aged seven, two, and 18 months, all from different women. The two oldest children had been living with him in Durban before the crimes, while the youngest was living with her mother in Cape Town.
His lawyer Peter Burgers said since Bester had been in prison, the older children had moved to Johannesburg, one to live with her mother, the other to live with his retired uncle, 62. He told Judge Judith Cloete the fact that his client was young, had dependants and pleaded guilty, should all count in his favour.
He suggested a sentence of about 25 years, to run concurrently with his 50-year sentence for other crimes. Bester was previously sentenced to 50 years in prison for raping and robbing two models. He was jailed for 15 years on each count of rape and 15 years on each count of robbery. Five years of each robbery sentence was suspended.
Bester is called the “Facebook rapist” as he used the social networking site to lure women to meet him, claiming that international modelling scouts were interested in them. Armed with a knife, he then raped and robbed them.