Cape Town - The deportation of escaped prisoner Thabo Bester and his “customary wife” Nandipha Magudumana from Tanzania via chartered flight cost the taxpayers R1.4 million.
This was revealed by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, when he briefed the home affairs portfolio committee on Tuesday.
Motsoaledi said the Tanzanian authorities had opted for the deportation of Bester and Magudumana rather than extradition or any other system.
“When a person is deported to their country of origin, they are handed over to immigration officials of that country, not any other authority – strictly immigration officials via the ambassador of that particular country.
“The Tanzanians said they are not prepared to hand over Thabo to the police. They wanted immigration officials from Home Affairs in South Africa.
“We don’t have aeroplanes like the police and the army. Our only option was to fly commercial and we found that we needed to fly a team of 14 people overall,” he said.
He explained the route they would have taken to get to where Bester and Magudumana where, would have required that they fly Dar Es Salaam and then hire vehicles for travelling for about 660 km by road.
“We looked at the logistics and found that it can’t work. We decided to use the method we used when we deport our own people from Lindela (Repatriation Centres) to other countries,” he said.
Motsoaledi said buses or minibuses were hired to take foreigners to neighbouring countries and that those from far away countries were flown by chartered flights.
In the case of Bester and Magudumana, a company that could provide an aeroplane that could fly 14 people, which would have landing rights and all documentation on their own without the help of the state in less than 24 hours, were asked to submit a proposal.
“There are companies that responded. The last one we took was the cheapest at R1.4m. It was the cheapest of them all and we opted for that.
“We never asked anybody that we wanted a luxury flight, as everybody is saying. It is the cheapest flight we got as one of those who responded to our request for a proposal,” he said.