Home South African Police commissioner calls for ‘public’s patience’ in Thabo Bester probe

Police commissioner calls for ‘public’s patience’ in Thabo Bester probe

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The national commissioner of the SAPS, General Fannie Masemola, has called on the public to be patient as the police investigate the Thabo Bester saga.

Thabo Bester is currently a fugitive. File picture: Patrick Louw, African News Agency (ANA)

THE NATIONAL commissioner of the SAPS, General Fannie Masemola, has called on the public to be patient as the police investigate the Thabo Bester saga.

With revelations constantly coming to light about the “great escape” of the ‘Facebook rapist’ like something out of a Hollywood movie, Masemola has ordered that the investigation into the Mangaung prison escape be prioritised.

According to the national police spokesperson, Brigadier Athlenda Mathe, this is being done in the best interest of justice for the victims, survivors and affected families.

Bester supposedly burnt to death in his Mangaung Correctional Centre cell in May 2022. He had been serving a life sentence for rape and murder.

However, an explosive investigation by GroundUp revealed that Bester escaped from prison and was seen in Sandton shopping at a supermarket two months after he supposedly died.

Correctional Services admitted on Friday that the charred body discovered in May 2022 was not that of Bester, and that he likely escaped from the public-private prison facility in Mangaung.

At the weekend, it was announced that the DNA analysis conducted on the charred remains found in the cell confirmed them to be of an unknown person and not Bester.

“Detectives from the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences and the Organised Crime Investigations units in the Free State and Gauteng provinces have been working together around the clock on this investigation,” Mathe said.

“A case of murder is under investigation following the outcome of the DNA analysis that confirmed that the body of the deceased which was found was not of Thabo Bester. The autopsy report went on to further reveal that the deceased had died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head and was already dead prior to the arson incident.

“A case of escape from lawful custody was also registered on confirmation by the Department of Correctional Services that Thabo Bester was not in their custody. The likelihood of more charges being added cannot be ruled out as the investigation unfolds.”

Due to the “sensitive nature of the investigation”, Masemola has appealed to the public for patience and to allow detectives the space to conduct a thorough investigation towards building a watertight case that can stand up in court.

“Placing undue pressure on the investigators and demanding blow-by-blow updates at this stage has the potential to jeopardise the investigation,” Masemola said.

He added that the leaking of sensitive and confidential information to media houses would be investigated by authorities.

“To this end, a manhunt has been launched for all persons of interest in this particular case. No further information will be provided at this stage. The SAPS will give updates when circumstances permit,” Masemola said.

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