Bester escape your fault, MPs tell G4S bosses

Jailed rapist saw lover in private room

13 April 2023 - 07:00
By Nomazima Nkosi and Noxolo Sibiya
G4S audit and risk director Gert Beyleveld and Mangaung Correctional Centre director Joseph Monyante appeared before parliament yesterday over Thabo Bester escape.
Image: Screengrab G4S audit and risk director Gert Beyleveld and Mangaung Correctional Centre director Joseph Monyante appeared before parliament yesterday over Thabo Bester escape.

Members of parliament tore into G4S bosses who were summoned to account on how murderer and rapist Thabo Bester escaped from the Mangaung prison last year.

The MPs accused the officials of being evasive, shifting blame to the police and not taking accountability for the embarrassing “Hollywood” style escape.

The trio who appeared before the justice and correctional services portfolio committee in parliament yesterday were the prison’s audit and risk director Gert Beyleveld, G4S regional commercial director for Africa Cobus Groenewoud and the prison’s centre director Joseph Monyante.

They admitted that Bester, who was registered as a graphic design student at Damelin College, had a personal laptop in his cell that had yet to be audited to see what he was up to days leading to the escape on May 3. They also confirmed that the kist, big enough to carry a body that was driven into the facility days before he escaped, had not yet been taken for forensic testing nearly a year after the brazen breakout.

Beyleveld also revealed that Bester’s alleged partner-in-crime, Dr Nandipha Magudumana, visited the inmate frequently between 2017 until November 2021.

An insider working at the Mangaung facility speaking to Sowetan revealed that Magudumana was a regular visitor that would be assigned a private room for some time alone with Bester. This was the same room Bester would use for his virtual meetings for while running his business... from inside prison.

Magudumana would not be searched prior to entering the prison, according to the insider said.

“She would bring Bester frozen food from Woolworths and meat packages and he would share some of them with fellow inmates. He had pork even though prisoners are not served pork,” he said.

“Any official who dared to search Nandipha would be victimised. One female officer, who insisted on searching her, is now facing a disciplinary hearing.” Bester was well protected inside the prison and had a lot of preferential treatment from officials.”

It also emerged that just four days before the grand escape, a vehicle was driven through the prison gate without a gate pass on April 29.

Bester escaped from the Mangaung facility after setting his cell on fire and staging his fake own death. The private prison was managed by G4S.

Bester and Magudumana were arrested on Friday in Tanzania.

MPs accused G4S of being deliberately vague and not bringing enough information to the committee with DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach saying the report presented by the company was not worth the paper it was written on.

Breytenbach grilled Groenewoud for close to 50 minutes after another MP gave up his time to allow her to continue with her line of questioning.

Groenewoud said only three employees had been suspended after the incident.

“Are you honestly sitting here telling us that this escape of Hollywood proportions was done with the assistance of three people?” Breytenbach said responded by saying that Bester had the laptop because he was a student.