Thabo Bester did not die in fire, he is at large, correctional services confirms

Graeme Hosken Senior reporter
Thabo Bester, the man dubbed the Facebook rapist, did not die in a fire, says correctional services.
Thabo Bester, the man dubbed the Facebook rapist, did not die in a fire, says correctional services.
Image: File

The correctional services department has confirmed that Facebook rapist Thabo Bester escaped from Mangaung maximum security prison.

The escape is South Africa's most audacious prison break.

“On May 3 2022 the department of correctional services received a report from Mangaung Correctional Centre, a public-private partnership facility contracted to Bloemfontein Correctional Contracts, operated by G4S, indicating offender Thabo Bester committed suicide by setting himself alight in his cell at about 3.25am. Recorded as an unnatural death, the standard operating procedures dictated that an investigation be launched and the incident be reported to the police," said correctional services spokesperson Singabako Nxumalo.

“In line with the concession contract, two correctional services officials were appointed to conduct an investigation into the incident.”

He said the department could announce the findings of its internal investigation, which ran parallel to a still ongoing police probe.

“A post-mortem conducted on the body that burnt beyond recognition in cell 35 at Mangaung Correctional Centre revealed it was an adult male with blunt force trauma to his head. The post-mortem report further revealed that there were no signs of smoke inhalation in the body.

“Furthermore, it uncovered that the pancreas and the spleen in the body were in the early stages of decomposition. Over and above that, the DNA sequencing with a person identified to be the mother of Bester failed to indicate a common ancestor or a match.”

He said based on this, the plausible conclusion meant the body was not that of Bester.

“The department’s investigation concluded that Bester escaped from lawful custody on May 3 2022.

“Critical at this stage is for Bester to be found. DCS is appealing to the public to assist with any information that may lead to the arrest of Bester to contact the police.”


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