Pretoria - A very intelligent, professional conman, who is highly manipulative and believes people are there to serve his will and be cast aside once he is done with them.
Those were some of the observations made to describe South Africa's notorious serial rapist and murderer Thabo Bester by the former head of a SAP’s profiling unit, who interviewed the convicted murderer during his sentencing in 2011.
Dr Gerard Labuschagne, a clinical psychologist and former brigadier of the SAPS Investigative Psychology Section, recalled meeting Bester while he was the head of the police profiling unit.
Labuschagne said he was asked by the investigators to interview Bester and, if need be, testify at his sentencing proceedings.
He said, he found Bester to possess a manipulative side as he was able to con a lot of people, even his crime spree which included fraud, rape and murder, involved conning people.
Labuschagne said he found Bester to be intelligent, so much so that he would adapt his style to ensure he manipulated his victims and ultimately get what he wanted out of them.
“He obviously hasn’t changed since being imprisoned, and his cons just became more sophisticated and elaborate. He is clearly not rehabilitated.
“He is a professional conman, highly manipulative, you can’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth without verifying it first. For him, people are there to serve his will and will be cast out as soon as he is done with them.”
He said that the only information he could ascertain was that Bester gave him the name of Thabo Bester during their interactions in 2011.
Bester also said that he was born at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and lived on a plot in Ennerdale with his grandmother, and had left school in the then-Standard 5.
Labuschagne said he could not recall if the convicted murderer mentioned the type of relationship he had with his family, or any romantic relationships.
All this while South Africa has been abuzz with questions about who Bester is, how he was able to access gadgets under the pretext of studying while incarcerated, and more recently, the lavish lifestyle that he and his partner Dr Nandipha Magudumana had lived after his escape from the Mangaung Correctional Centre on May 3 last year.
Many others have heralded Justice Edwin Cameron, the inspecting judge for the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (Jics), for being brave enough to leak information about Bester's escape to the media.
“Dear South Africa: Let’s express our deepest gratitude to Justice Edwin Cameron for leading Jics with integrity and saving many lives by exposing the corruption enabled Thabo Bester prison break and surrounding shenanigans #ThankYouEdwinCameron,” wrote former public protector Thuli Madonsela.
“He is a hero. However, the fact that he had no choice but to go about it this way is tragic,” said a Mr Tshabalala.
Justice Cameron admitted to leaking information about the escape to GroundUp, allegedly due to the slow probe by law enforcement officials.