Convicted rapist and murderer Thabo Bester’s so-called prison escape from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in the Free State, can’t be dubbed a mere escape, but rather an “aided” one. This is according to Tatolo Setlai, who served as a controller at the prison, between 2006 and 2008.
Thabo Bester allegedly escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre that is managed by the private security company G4S in May, 2022.
Setlai says at Mangaung Correctional Services in the Free State says less than five people could have assisted Bester to escape prison.
Special task team deployed to investigate Bester’s escape:
After working for two years at the prison that is managed by Group 4 Security Services, Setlai has indicated that Bester might have used the facilities’ school or church sections, to operate his multimillion rand media business.
He believes prison officials could have provided him with access, highlighting that some are easy to get bribed.
“Money plays a very important role in prison. Especially if they know that you struggle, you’re vulnerable to corruption in prison. So, if you know that you don’t handle your money correctly, you must know that they’re going to help you to be corrupt and they’re going to corrupt you,” says Setlai.
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Setlai has highlighted that G4S has advanced technology and that every escape that happens in the prison would be gross negligence of the officials. He has revealed that the Correctional Services building is well equipped and that no offender can escape without getting assistance.
He believes Bester could not have escaped without being aided.
“For me, if I look at the set-up and I know the set-up, he has been helped. There’s no way that the person who is working in that unit, a person can come in the cell without his knowledge. So, I want to say that the person who is working at the unit where this thing has taken place, the official who is in charge of night duty, it’s a supervisor seemingly, and the person who was operating the camera, they know exactly what happened.”
Setlai has further highlighted that Bester’s bizarre prison escape can be easily resolved and shouldn’t be regarded as a mystery.
“This matter, it’s only Jesus Christ who make a mystery, but this one is not a mystery. It’s straight forward. According to that set-up, it’s very easy to catch people, who did that, very, very easy.”
The South African Policing Union (Sapu) in the Free State is appalled and not satisfied at the manner in which the Department of Correctional Services is dealing with the matter.
Sapu’s provincial secretary Lebohang Helepi says, “The contract itself being allocated to private sectors compromises the security of the country. Private sectors get to be exposed to our security. How we run the prisons and stuff. Also, this is a constitutional democracy. We believe in rehabilitation of prisoners, instead of the punishment of prisoners.”
Helepi has further revealed that one of their members was dismissed for negligence, following the fire that caused Bester’s alleged death and now that it has been proven that he didn’t die, they are demanding her reinstatement.
DISCUSSION | Security in SA prisons under spotlight following Thabo Bester’s escape: