G4S insists Thabo Bester died in fire
Security company G4S maintains convicted rapist and murderer Thabo Bester died in his prison cell and is not at large.
The department of correctional services said it is in talks with the security company, which is the contractor of the Mangaung maximum-security prison, to get to the bottom of what transpired on the day Bester allegedly died.
Speaking on eNCA, correctional services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said there is no common ground between the correctional services' findings and those of G4S.
“We are now engaging with the second leg, in terms of what the contact says when it comes to an escape. The security breaches that we have identified, unfortunately, there is no common ground. We don't seem to find each other with the contractor in terms of our findings and their findings,” said Nxumalo.
“There are disagreements. They are maintaining that the inmate who was allocated that particular cell is the one that died in that fire and we are saying that is not the case.”
The department confirmed Bester escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre after it was believed he had committed suicide by setting himself alight in his cell.
It said investigations into the incident concluded that Bester had escaped from lawful custody on May 3.
Several organisations and politicians said heads must roll after the escape.
“We need a new minister of police immediately. Thabo Bester held live streams from prison, faked his death, was living large in Sandton and the government is now asking the public to help them catch him. They showed us drones on Monday. Use that technology to catch this murderer,” said Build One SA movement leader Mmusi Maimane.
He said justice minister Ronald Lamola and police minister Bheki Cele need to account for how they will protect the public from the rapist and murderer.
“Both the minister of justice and the minister of police need to hold a full press briefing to account to the public how they will be protected from a rapist and murderer on the loose who is seen driving and shopping in Sandton. Heads must roll, we are not safe!”
Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) “noted with shock” revelations about the audacious escape.
“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.
Mamabolo claimed Bester’s escape showed the prison's management tried to “brush the matter under the carpet”.
“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 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.
Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.
PODCAST | Thabo Bester is a 21st century headache for correctional services
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.