Johannesburg - The acting national commissioner for the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), Makgothi Thobakgale, said he was confident that the Facebook rapist, murderer, and fugitive Thabo Bester would be re-arrested.

When Bester walked out of the Mangaung Correctional Centre in May last year, he fooled the entire DCS and the country with his escape, which many suggested would make a highly-rated Netflix series.

Bester escaped from lawful custody on May 3, 2022, after faking his own death by setting “himself” alight in his cell.

Speaking during a media conference in Free State yesterday to provide an update on Bester’s escape incident, Thobakgale said a tracking and tracing team is searching for Bester.

"A tracking and tracing team is hard at work looking for Bester, and we continue to appeal to those who may have information or leads to come forward. We remain confident that we will arrest the fugitive and bring him to justice. No stone will be left unturned in getting to the bottom of this incident," said Thobakgale.

A source in the SAPS in Cape Town said they were on high alert after reports suggested that the escapee might be in the province.

This week The Star reported that Bester is believed to be on the run with his girlfriend, a celebrity doctor named Dr Nandipha Magudumana.

Both Magudumana’s father and brother did interviews this week. They said they didn’t know the whereabouts of their loved one.

Soon after the show-stopping escape by Bester, CCTV footage from a supermarket in Sandton captured the two doing shopping.

Thobakgale said after carefully considering the findings and recommendations of the investigation report on Bester’s escape incident and consulting Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola, he decided to invoke Section 112 of the Correctional Services Act, read with clause 55 of the concession contract.

"This is a necessary remedy following this embarrassing incident, which has undermined the authority of the state," he said.

He further said: "The findings of the report point to the fact that the director of Mangaung Correctional Centre has lost effective control of the facility, among other factors, and the Correctional Services Act does provide for a mechanism to restore safety and security by taking control of the correctional centre by means of appointing a temporary manager."

Thobakgale said the temporary manager would perform the functions of the director.

"I have appointed Patrick Mashabathakga as the temporary manager of Mangaung Correctional Facility with immediate effect. The contractor has been duly informed of this decision.

“Mashabathakga will be supported by other officials that I’ve appointed in order to ensure that the facility is able to render the required services without experiencing shortcomings," Thobakgale said.

He said G4S had not been co-operating with the investigation into the escape.

"One of the challenges we faced in this investigation is that we were not getting the necessary co-operation and the information we needed from G4S for us to be able to conduct investigations.

"That is the matter that we will get on to, now that we have taken over management of the Mangaung facility," Thobakgale said.

However, author and investigative journalist Ruth Hopkins said the DCS took over at the facility in 2013 after she exposed widespread torture and forced injections with anti-psychotic drugs and murder.

Speaking in an interview with one of the broadcasters, she said DCS promised that they were going to investigate all irregularities and human rights violations, but they didn't, and she said they didn’t release the report.

"Now with the Bester escape, I heard from my sources that the DCS person who wanted to report and expose this a year ago was transferred. DCS and G4S are in it together. To me, there is no doubt that it’s going to get any better for the DCS; I mean, they have a terrible track record," says Hopkins.

The Star

2023-03-31T09:32:03Z dg43tfdfdgfd