Crime & Courts

Witness ‘promised’ R2.5 million in Thabo Bester’s escape but was given peanuts

Thabo Bester, popularly known as the Facebook Rapist, is said to have escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre with the help of several G4S guards and an Integritron Integrated Solutions technician.

Bester, who was being held at the prison for the rape and murder of a 21-year-old woman, reportedly used a laptop to deposit R152,000 into the bank account of former G4S security supervisor Senohe Matsoara between April and May of 2022. Matsoara, in turn, is accused of distributing the money to Natassja Jansen and Tieho Makhotsa, who worked in the Central Control Room where the CCTV cameras were monitored.

According to reports by The Citizen, the five former G4S employees are charged with aiding and abetting Bester in his escape from the correctional facility. Teboho Lipholo, the Integritron Integrated Solutions technician who was promised R2.5 million by Matsoara but only received R40,000, allegedly disconnected the CCTV cameras for Bester’s cell block while Jansen and Makhotsa opened doors for him.

However, the investigating officer, Tieho Flyman, provided a confession by the Mangaung prison CCTV technician who stated that he was bribed with R40,000 instead of the promised R2.5 million. It remains unclear if Jansen was paid, but Makhotsa reportedly received R14,000. News24 reports that Lipholo was the one who revealed details of his involvement, as well as that of the former guards, when he was paid less than he had been promised.

The hearing is set to continue on Tuesday, 16 May, and it is yet to be seen how the situation will unfold. It is, however, evident that the escape and the surrounding events have left many questions unanswered. One of the most significant mysteries is the death of Katlego Bereng, whose burnt body was found in Bester’s cell after he escaped from the prison.

According to GroundUP, witnesses revealed that Bereng had a seizure at a taxi rank caused by low blood sugar levels and later died at the hospital before he was set on fire in Bester’s cell to fake his death. Flyman stated that a man was found at a taxi rank in Bloemfontein after collapsing, and paramedics took him to the hospital in an ambulance. Doctors said the man died during resuscitation, and his blood sugar levels were low. Police have since claimed that the man was Bereng.

Dr Nandipha Magudumana claimed Bereng’s body, pretended it was her brother’s child, Zanda Moyo, and revealed she was assisting with the funeral arrangements. Magudumana’s father, Zolile Sekeleni, reportedly hired a car from OR Tambo International Airport and drove it to Bloemfontein on 27 April 2022.

OFM reports that a witness, who cannot be named, said Bereng’s burnt body was placed in a trolley dustbin before it was taken to Bester’s cell. “The body was allegedly brought inside the premises of the Mangaung Prison on 29 April 2022 by accused 1, Senohe Matsoara, whilst driving a hired vehicle by accused 2, Zolile Sekeleni, who is the father of accused 4, Dr Nandi Magudumana,” adds the publication.

It is still unclear how and why Bereng’s body ended up in Bester’s cell and why Dr Magudumana claimed it as her brother’s child.

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