‘How did burnt body get into cell 35’: Popcru shocked by audacious prison escape by Thabo Bester

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) on Sunday “noted with shock” revelations about the audacious escape from prison of Facebook rapist and murderer Thabo Bester.  

Bester escaped from Mangaung Correctional Centre in the Free State, which is contracted to G4S, a multinational private security company.  

Bester has been living it up in a R12m luxury home in Hyde Park in Johannesburg’s plush northern suburbs since he supposedly died in a fire at the prison in May last year, the Sunday Times reported.

“Following this incident, there has since been an internal investigation which had been closed, wherein the security supervisor at the time was dismissed on charges of negligence as opposed to the causal factor behind the fire in the cell, and the  Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) is currently handling his matter,” said Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo.  

Bester’s escape, he charged, demonstrated that the management of the correctional centre tried to “brush the matter under the carpet” until media reports surfaced on the whereabouts of Bester.

“This further raises questions as to whom the burnt body belongs, and how it found itself in cell 35. This brings to question the level of responsibility the department of correctional services (DCS) takes in monitoring, and the functionality of controllers which it appoints to ensure that contractual obligations with these private prisons are not violated in line with the prescripts of the Correctional Services Act,” he said.  

He said the government spends almost R1bn a year of taxpayers’ money on two private prisons with about 5,952 inmates at Mangaung and Makhado in Limpopo — owned and managed by consortia led by multinational companies.  

The department had a daily budget of R385 to detain, clothe and feed prisoners, he added.  

“Costs are considerably steeper and more profitable at the privately run Mangaung Prison at R435 per person a day, and R412 at the Kutama-Sinthumule prison, which are run as a public-private partnership.,

“We are of the view that the provision of law and order is the key function of any government. This duty should not be delegated to the private sector, because it is motivated by profit.”

City Press reported on Sunday that Nandipha Magudumana’s brother, Nkosinathi Sekeleni, who exposed her relationship with Bester, has gone into hiding.  

“We are practically homeless and I am in hiding … I fear for my life because of the articles that were written putting me at the centre for exposing my sister. I don’t know what dots to connect. I don’t know which high ranking officials are involved in this [case] and it can come back and bite me,” he told the publication. 


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Author: Diego Damron

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