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By Narissa Subramoney

Deputy digital news editor


JICS’ Edwin Cameron ‘feels complicit in the insufficient response’ on Thabo Bester

'I have demonstrated, perhaps in a less culpable or demonstrable event, the same kind of insufficient urgency, outrage and alarm.'


Retired Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron – who heads Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) has told Parliament that he feels ‘complicit in the insufficient response’ on the Thabo Bester prison break.

“I have demonstrated, perhaps in a less culpable or demonstrable event, the same kind of insufficient urgency, outrage and alarm,” said Cameron.

Bester, who is a convicted rapist and murderer, together with his ‘customary law wife’ Dr Nandipha Magudumana have been on the run since his brazen prison break last year.

The couple was arrested in Tanzania on Wednesday, and flown back to South Africa in the early hours of Thursday morning.

ALSO READ: Nandipha and Thabo: Was it love or extreme infatuation?

Thabo Bester: Portfolio Committee grilling continues

DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach was unforgiving when she laid into Cameron for not doing anything to alert Bester’s victims that “he was on the loose and they could run into their rapist in Checkers”.

She said officials had known that a dangerous rapist and murderer had escaped from prison since August, but knowledge of his ‘prison walkout’ only came to light through a GroundUp news report months later.

Breytenbach also pressed Cameron on why he did not use his influence to get a speedy response.

 G4S has one job to do, and that is to keep prisoners behind bars, particularly when they are a serial rapist and killer, as Bester is. As a respected jurist and litigator you have a lot of clout and you didn’t use it?

ALSO READ: Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana arrested in Tanzania

Cameron admitted that he could not provide ‘satisfactory’ answers and was part of the slow moving levers and disbelief over the brazen nature of the prison break.

The retired judge also took responsibility for JICS not bringing the Bester blunder to the attention of Parliament earlier, but said he had tipped off some trusted journalists on what was unfolding at the Mangaung Correctional Services facility.

ALSO WATCH: ‘Thabo Bester will be guarded by highly trained officers’

Why was Bester’s escape not made public

Cameron reflected on the benefits of hindsight, saying the committee needed to be humble about the information it has brought.

“There were fears that publicity about the escape could jeopardise its investigation,” he said.

See JICS report

Meanwhile, Bester has since been taken to Kgosi Mapuru prison and is expected to face additional charges in the wake of his escape. Dr Nandipha has been taken to Bloemfontein as is expected to appear in court later today.

 The hearing continues.

NOW READ: Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana back in SA

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