Government cuts ties with G4S

Published May 2, 2023


Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has announced that his department has cut ties with the G4S security firm after the Thabo Bester escape drama.

Lamola told Parliament that he has served notice to G4S on Tuesday to leave the Mangaung correctional centre in three months.

He said the notice of 90 days for G4S would allow his officials to take full control of the prison.

He said some of the officials were already in Mangaung for the take over of the correctional centre.

Lamola, who was briefing members of the National Assembly committee on correctional services, said they sought a legal opinion on the matter.

They believe that G4S breached the terms of the contract after Bester escaped from prison last May.

This was after he faked his death.

It has since emerged that Bloemfontein resident Katlego Bereng was used as a decoy in the prison cell where Bester was kept.

Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana were arrested by the authorities in Tanzania.

They will be going on trial after the bail applications of Magudumana and some of the accused.

Bester is already serving a sentence of life imprisonment and 75 years for rape and murder.

“The Department of Correctional Services has this morning served the Mangaung Correctional Services private company with a notice to terminate. The notice to terminate follows that the department of correctional services sought legal opinion and it has been deemed that BCC (Bloemfontein Correctional Contracts) is not suitable to continue with the contract. In line with the concession contract agreement a termination notice of 90 days has been served to BCC and thereafter the contract will cease to operate. The department of correctional services has already resumed with an internal exercise to take over. This will have to happen after the 90 days period in terms of the notice of termination,” said Lamola.

Lamola also told members of the committee that the police continued to make arrests in the Bester escape drama.

He said two more suspects were added to the list of accused persons this week.

Asked about the modernisation of the criminal justice system, Lamola said this would have helped to deal with issues like that of Bester because the systems would have been integrated.

The departments of justice, correctional services, home affairs, police and other security cluster departments have for years been pushing for the integration of their systems to crackdown on crime.

Parts of the system have been implemented, said Lamola.

But he said the Bester case shows if they can integrate these systems the escape could have been picked up earlier.

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