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Family, friends honour the memory of Katlego Bereng

The young man's body was used as a stand-in corpse during Thabo Bester’s audacious escape from prison in Bloemfontein last year

Tankiso Makhetha Investigative reporter
Residents of Hamilton in Bloemfontein came out in their numbers to honour the memory of Katlego Bereng.
Residents of Hamilton in Bloemfontein came out in their numbers to honour the memory of Katlego Bereng.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

Family and friends gathered in Bloemfontein to celebrate the life of Katlego Bereng, whose body was used as a stand-in corpse during Thabo Bester’s audacious escape from prison.

Police last week confirmed that the body burnt in cell 35 at the Mangaung Correctional Centre on May 3 2022 was that of the 31-year-old.

Though the mood at the memorial service was celebratory,  Bereng’s aunt, Poppie Bereng, told mourners that she would never forget seeing her nephew's remains.

“We have seen his remains and it’s something I will never forget. You can only imagine ... I can’t describe what I saw. But God is with us.

“Our question is where was Katlego for a whole year after he disappeared. We don’t know where he was and what had happened to him even though we were searching all over. But God will give us the answers,” she said.

Poppie was at the Bloemfontein magistrate's court on Wednesday where she came face-to-face with the suspects who allegedly arranged for her nephew’s body to be used as a decoy during Bester’s escape.

“When they walked up the stairs they were smiling and blowing kisses because they have trust in their lawyers. We need to walk with confidence until Sunday when we lay him to rest. Our lawyer is God, who will protect us,” said Poppie.

Dozens of mourners, most wearing Bloemfontein Celtic regalia, provided an exultant atmosphere and spoke highly of Bereng.

Keano Kok, a Bloemfontein Celtic supporter, described Bereng as a humble soul who was also a leader.

“He worked for the supporters of Bloemfontein Celtic throughout his life and was even part of the national set-up. He loved to work with people and joined different organisations, such as Yanya Tsotsi, an organisation that fights crime in Bloemfontein. That shows he was a people’s person,” Kok said

Earlier in the day, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in the Free State confirmed that it had withdrawn charges of murder against Bester, Dr Nandipha Magudumana and their co-accused.

Bester, Magudumana, her father Zolile Cornelius Sekeleni, Senohe Matsoara, Teboho Lipholo, Buty Masemola, Tieho Makhotsa and Nastassja Jansen initially faced a charge of murder along with a litany of other charges including fraud, aiding and abetting a convict to escape custody, corruption and defeating the ends of justice.

The charge of murder was in relation to Bereng’s charred body that was found in Bester’s cell after his Hollywood-esque escape.

NPA spokesperson Phaladi Suping said there was insufficient evidence for the NPA to pursue a charge of murder.

Poppie Bereng said the family could not comment on the latest developments because they had not been informed about them.

“We don’t have an opinion on the matter because the authorities have not approached us to inform us that the murder charge has been withdrawn. I was in court yesterday and nothing was said about the charge being withdrawn,” she said.

TimesLIVE


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