Last year, South African authorities thought convicted murderer and rapist Thabo Bester had set himself alight in a prison cell and died. Now, they’ve admitted that he is alive and at large.
Authorities in South Africa said on Saturday that a notorious inmate who they thought had died in a prison fire in 2022 had actually escaped.
Thabo Bester was serving a life sentence at the privately run Mangaung Correctional Centre for murder and a series of rapes and robberies. He was dubbed the “Facebook rapist” for luring his victims on the social media platform.
Bester was thought to have died in a fire in his cell in May.
On Saturday, the department of correctional services, however, confirmed that he had escaped from jail.
A post-mortem and a DNA test revealed the man who died in the prison fire was not Bester. Instead, the body showed evidence of blunt-force trauma to his head and no signs of smoke inhalation.
“No stone will be left unturned in getting to the bottom of Thabo Bester’s escape, and there will be serious consequences for any party involved,” the department said.
Bester reportedly operated business from prison
The admission that Bester was at large came after months of reporting by the South African nonprofit news agency GroundUp suggesting that he was alive.
Last week GroundUp also published evidence proving that Bester ran a sham business from behind bars.
He even made a video-conference appearance at a glamorous Johannesburg event in 2018, pretending to be the company’s chairman,
when he was in fact seated in front of a white background, in the maximum security prison operated by multinational company G4S.
On Saturday, correctional services said it would not renew G4S’s contract to run the prison when it expires in 2026.
But G4S already said in 2019 it would not pursue a new contract to run the prison.
Opposition parties outraged
South Africa’s Democratic Alliance, the country’s main opposition party, on Friday called on the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services to launch an urgent investigation into the matter.
They said GroundUp‘s reporting suggests that there has been a cover-up.
Another opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters said the case is a “testament to the incompetence of the Correctional Services system,” in the country.
Edited by: Kieran Burke
Source link : https://allafrica.com/stories/202303260003.html
Publish date : 2023-03-26 08:58:21