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South Africa ends security firm’s contract over jail break

South Africa’s prison authority has issued notice to terminate a contract with the multinational security firm, G4S.

The company is responsible for running Mangaung Prison from where convicted rapist and murderer, Thabo Bester, escaped last May by faking his own death and planting a corpse in his cell.

The escape only came to light last month – until then it was thought Bester had died in a mysterious blaze in his cell. He and his celebrity girlfriend were arrested last month in Tanzania.

G4S has admitted to security breaches at the facility but would not take responsibility for Bester’s embarrassing escape. Its contract to run the prison was set to end in 2026.

However, Minister of Justice, Ronald Lamola, told Members of Parliament (MPs) he was ending the contract early on the advice of lawyers.

Bester is now being held in another maximum security prison and will appear in court later this month on new charges related to the escape, including one count of murder.

Known as the “Facebook rapist” for using the social networking site to lure his victims, Bester was convicted in 2012 for the rape and murder of his then girlfriend.

A year earlier, he was found guilty of raping and robbing two other women.The daring prison break, the celebrity girlfriend and the escape across borders had all the elements of a fictional thriller.

But in some ways, that tempting description serves to glamorise and trivialise what South African rapist and murderer, Thabo Bester, actually did.

While many were open-mouthed after each revelation about how this man managed to flee prison and live undetected for a year, his victims saw it a different way.

It also exposed a stunning level of official incompetence. One of the women he attacked spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity.

Bester, known locally as the “Facebook rapist” for using the site to lure his victims, had pretended to be an agent who was going to help her find a job in television.

“Reading his stories in the news is bringing back a lot of triggering memories,” she said. “The escape left me triggered and traumatised.” -BBC


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