The recent escape of Thabo Bester who was convicted of murder and rape after luring victims via Facebook has shocked the nation. Bester had escaped from the Mangaung maximum-security prison by setting his cell on fire and a body found in the cell was initially believed to be his. However, it has now been confirmed that the body was not that of Bester and he has since been spotted living a lavish lifestyle in a luxury home in Johannesburg.
The Department of Correctional Services has finally confirmed Bester’s escape after days of speculation. A postmortem conducted on the burnt body found in Bester’s cell revealed that it was not him, as there were no signs of smoke inhalation and the DNA did not match Bester’s mother. This has raised questions about how the body ended up in the cell and the level of responsibility of the correctional services department in monitoring the situation.
Bester has been living in luxury in a R12m home in Hyde Park with his socialite girlfriend, Dr Nandipha Magudumana, and her two children. They disappeared when suspicions of Bester’s escape arose, leaving behind a R1.5m watch on his bedside table. Bester has been living a life of extravagance and has been involved in various scams, including posing as the chairman of a company called 21st Century Media and running multimillion-rand businesses from his prison cell.
The real Thabo Bester, who was convicted of murder in 2010, claims that his identity was stolen, and he has been living a nightmare as police often question him about his alleged involvement in illegal activities. He believes that his impostor used his identity to commit crimes, causing confusion and distress for him and his neighbors.
A video of Bester attending events virtually and pretending to be a wealthy businessman overseas has gone viral since his escape. He has been seen laughing from his prison cell as a crowd sang happy birthday to him during the launch of 21st Century Media. Businesswoman Phumudzo Thenga, who was reportedly the sole director of 21st Century Media, claims that she was also a victim of Bester’s scam, as he pretended to be a shareholder of international brands and misled her into opening a local subsidiary of these brands.
The public outcry over Bester’s escape has been widespread, with calls for accountability from the police and correctional services. Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Build One SA movement, has called for a new minister of police and a press briefing from the justice minister and police minister on how they will protect the public. The EFF has criticized the incompetence of the correctional services system and the endangerment of women’s lives in South Africa due to Bester’s escape.
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has also questioned the escape, suggesting that the management of the correctional centre tried to cover up the incident. Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo has raised concerns about the responsibility of the correctional services department in monitoring and ensuring that contractual obligations with private prisons are not violated.
In conclusion, the escape of Thabo Bester from prison has caused shock and outrage in South Africa. Bester has been living a life of luxury while evading capture, and the authorities are facing criticism for their handling of the situation. The real Thabo Bester has been a victim of identity theft and is struggling to clear his name. The incident has also exposed flaws in the correctional services system and raised questions about accountability and responsibility.