South Africa extradites prison break fugitive from Tanzania

Dubbed the ‘Facebook rapist’, Bester sentenced to life in prison in 2012, escaped in May 2022 after a suicide hoax.

A picture taken on July 08, 2021 shows an official entering a Correctional Centre, South Africa
An official entering a correctional centre, July 8, 2021, South Africa [AFP]

A South African fugitive who faked his own death in a prison break that embarrassed the authorities has been extradited from Tanzania and returned to prison, the government said on Thursday.

Thabo Bester, convicted of rape and murder, escaped from a privately run prison in Bloemfontein in May last year – but South African police only found out last month and launched a manhunt.

Bester was believed to have died after setting himself on fire behind bars, but in late March, police said an autopsy revealed that the person found dead in his cell had died from blunt force trauma to the head before being set ablaze.

A murder investigation has been opened.

The case has sparked outrage in South Africa, where women’s rights groups have long accused the government of not doing enough to tackle violence against women.

Dubbed the “Facebook rapist”, Bester – who was sentenced to life in prison for rape, robbery and murder in 2012 – lured victims on the social media platform before raping and robbing them. He killed at least one victim.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola on Saturday announced that Thabo Bester was arrested by Tanzanian authorities on Friday night along with a woman with whom he is reportedly romantically involved, and a Mozambican accomplice.

On Thursday, Lamola said the pair had been extradited to South Africa.

“We can confirm that these fugitives have been returned to South Africa” from Tanzania, Lamola told a news conference in Cape Town.

“Mr Thabo Bester has been readmitted into the Kgosi Mampuru central maximum correctional facility,” Lamola said, thanking the Tanzanian government.

The woman was under arrest pending a court appearance later on Thursday, he said.

Bester and the woman landed at a privately owned airport north of Johannesburg in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The father of the woman was earlier this week charged with murder in connection with the man found dead in Bester’s cell.

Source: News Agencies