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Thabo Bester escape: Correctional Services will not renew prison contract with G4S

A file picture of Thabo Bester surrounded by correctional officers. Photo: Brenton Geach

A file picture of Thabo Bester surrounded by correctional officers. Photo: Brenton Geach

Published Mar 29, 2023


Pretoria: The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has indicated it will not be renewing its contract with G4S to run Mangaung Prison, following the movie-style escape by “Facebook Rapist” Thabo Bester.

The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Ramola said this in his reply in Parliament to EFF MP Yoliswa Yako.

Yako’s questions came after the nation learned Bester, who was said to have died in a mysterious fire in the prison, had escaped.

G4S was a member of a consortium that agreed to manage Mangaung Prison for 25 years under a contract with the DCS.

The contract between the government and the multinational private security company was expected to run until June 30, 2026.

In his reply, Lamola also said the department would also not be renewing its contract with the South African Custodial Services, that managed the Kutama Sinthumile Correctional Centre in Makhado, Limpopo

That contract will end on February 15, 2027.

"The department has commenced with the process or taking them over once the contracts come to an end,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has criticised government for outsourcing its responsibilities to private entities.

Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said the union was of the “firm view” this escape, and multiple other misconducts and abuses reported over the years, were mainly a consequence of the DCS having outsourced the functions of the state’s security to foreign-owned companies, whose sole preoccupation was profit maximisation as opposed to the core mandate of rehabilitating inmates.

Police said a case of murder had been opened after it emerged that the person who was thought to Bester in the prison may have been killed during the bold escape.

The inmate, who remains unknown, was killed by blunt force trauma to the head, an autopsy confirmed.

Police are still on the hunt for Bester, who had been serving a life sentence for murder and rape, before his bold prison nearly a year ago.