Probe into Thabo Bester escape from prison was delayed by DNA, postmortem reports. The investigation into Thabo Bester’s daring jail break took so long, according to the department of correctional services (DCS), because DNA results and a postmortem report were delayed.
Makgothi Samuel Thobakgale, national commissioner for the prison system, gave updates on the case on Thursday.
Probe into Thabo Bester escape from prison was delayed by DNA, postmortem reports
The department verified that Bester escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Center on May 3, 2022, after it was originally thought that he had burned himself to death in his cell.
Bester was said to have perished in the fire, but security business G4S acknowledged it had fired three employees for their behavior that day.
A director of contract management located at the departmental headquarters, the DCS controller in Mangaung, and the deputy controller have all been suspended by correctional services.
Thobakgale provided an explanation for why it took almost a year to complete a study on the subject.
“The investigation took long. We were furnished with the DNA results and the postmortem report in October [last year] while we were doing the investigation. A draft report was submitted to the director of contract management in December and the final report was submitted to the office of the national commissioner on March 22 2023.
“This [is] one of the reasons some of these officials have been served with suspension notices. Because we have identified the investigation process was not managed properly.”
He said Bester’s escape was “one of its kind” that pointed to a “lack of security management” at the facility.
“All systems that were supposed to hold on the day the escape happened did not hold at all. And the most worrying is the human factor [which played] a major role.”
Because of this, the department will be in charge of managing the building, and Thobakgale confirmed the hiring of an interim manager who is a DCS representative and a working controller.
Gladys Rantente will serve as the controller, and Patrick Mashabathakga will take the director’s responsibilities.
“Yet the contractor maintains he died in his cell. This is contrary to overwhelming scientific evidence available. Greatly worrying is that a private vehicle was allowed inside the facility without a gate pass on the day of the escape, possibly carrying an unknown body that was burnt beyond recognition in cell 35.
“This speaks to a facility that has compromised its security system beyond reasonable doubt. Tampering with surveillance cameras points to a failed monitoring system deliberately orchestrated to conceal crucial evidence and individuals who aided Bester to escape. This is also a failure to guarantee safe custody of inmates and a breach in terms of the responsibilities allocated to the contractor.”
A track and tracing squad has reportedly been formed to locate Bester, who is reportedly running away with his girlfriend Dr. Nandipha Magudumana.