Editor’s Note: Thabo Bester, Guptas leave SA officials with egg on their faces

Fugitive Thabo Bester. Photo Supplied

Fugitive Thabo Bester. Photo Supplied

Published Apr 11, 2023


The South African authorities have managed to save a bit of face following the capture of Thabo Bester in Tanzania over the weekend.

This was confirmed by a full house of top brass including Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola, Police Minister Bheki Cele and national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Fanie Masemola.

The notorious “Facebook Rapist” was apprehended along with his alleged accomplices – Dr Nandipha Magudumana and a Mozambican national who had been “assisting” them.

The news two weeks ago of Bester’s escape from a private Mangaung prison in May last year had sparked an embarrassing international incident, which had shone the spotlight on corruption in the prison system. The police and justice departments also had egg on their faces.

Masemola launched a special investigation into the escape, assigning detectives from various units to work round the clock with tracing teams of Correctional Services and Crime Intelligence. They liaised with the National Commissioner of Police in Tanzania and Interpol and by Friday, the fugitives were in custody.

The slippery Bester – who is believed to have masterminded the jail-break by staging his own suicide in an elaborate fire incident using an unidentified man’s body – was found wearing Muslim headdress and apparently carrying a US passport. Once he is processed by authorities over there, a delegation of senior South African officials is due to deliver him back home to face a charge of escape.

A case of murder is also under investigation following the outcome of a DNA test that confirmed the fire victim was not Bester.

Meanwhile, two men were arrested yesterday, including a former G4S employee, for allegedly aiding and abetting the escape – a job Bester is alleged to have paid nine officials R5 million for.

There may be redemption for the South African authorities yet. No such luck with the Gupta brothers, however. This after the UAE rejected a bid to extradite Atul and Rajesh Gupta – who were wanted to answer for state capture allegations – after a ruling was handed down in the Emirates back in February.

According to our justice department, the judgment indicated that the Guptas are now citizens of the volcanic islands of Vanuatu in the Pacific Islands.

* Taariq Halim, Editor of the Cape Argus newspaper.

Cape Argus

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