Thabo Bester escape: Extradition, court appearances and arrests

A portfolio sitting, several court appearances and further arrests are some of the latest developments in the prison escape saga.

The ‘great escape’ of infamous ‘Facebook rapist’ Thabo Bester continues to make headlines across the world as the escapee and his accomplice have successfully been extradited from Tanzania where they were arrested last week Friday.

Justice and Correctional Services and the Police Ministry in a joint statement this morning thanked the government of Tanzania for their co-operation in the arrest and process of deportation of Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana.

“We are grateful to all the role players seized with this matter thus far, this includes state agencies and members of the public who have shared information that has assisted in the detention of the two fugitives, following an extensive manhunt. Thus far there is considerable progress with a number of arrests being effected,” the statement reads.

Bester was in 2012 convicted for the rape and murder of his girlfriend Nomfundo Tyhulu. The year before, he was also found guilty of raping and robbing two other women.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment for Tyhulu’s murder, as well as several 15-year sentences that relates to rape of other women.

Bester served his sentence at the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein, but in May 2022 it was reported that he had been found dead in his cell. It was said that he set himself alight. Then in March this year, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced that a manhunt was launched to find the convicted criminal after DNA results could not confirm that the body that was found, belonged to Bester.

The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services this morning met to discuss the matter at hand and, among other things, details surrounding his escape from prison. Cele and Justice Minister Ronald Lamola also briefed the sitting.

The sitting was informed that Lamola was in October last year asked to intervene into the ‘alleged death of Bester’ and the ‘untoward conduct of officials’.

G4S’s Johannes Groenewald was asked if they had provided the committee with all the requested documents to which he replied that a first draft has been handed in and that more information ‘will be proved as and when it becomes available’.

Other revelations:

  • Video footage of the night Bester allegedly died, is missing
  • Investigations into his alleged death started on May 5, 2022
  • Said that the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services had the post mortem report from August 2022
  • Bester is held at the Kgosi Mampuru II Prison in Pretoria
  • He will be monitored 24/7

Arrests made, more expected

Two men and the father of socialite-doctor and Bester’s partner, Magudumana, were arrested during the Easter long weekend for aiding and abetting the Facebook rapist’s escape.

They made their first appearance in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court yesterday, while a 44-year-old technician is expected in the same court today. The man reportedly works for a company that installs and maintains CCTV cameras at the Mangaung prison.

National police commissioner Fannie Masemola confirmed that five people, including Bester and Magudumana, have thus far been arrested and that one person was being questioned.

Despite these arrests, SAPS believe more arrests are possible.

Magudumana is also expected in court today because of her alleged violation of corpses and involvement in murder. She will also face charges related to helping Bester escape prison during a faked suicide on May 3, 2022.

Her court outcome was not known by time of publication.

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