Home South African State forked out R1.4 million for flight to bring back Bester, Magudumana

State forked out R1.4 million for flight to bring back Bester, Magudumana

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A team of 14 people from various state agencies including Home Affairs was put together to travel to Tanzania for the mission.

Convicted serial rapist and murderer Thabo Bester at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday. Picture: Screenshot, Newzroom Afrika

HOME Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has explained why the government had to fork out R1.4 million to get Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana back to South Africa after they were arrested in Tanzania.

Motsoaledi said the deportation of the two fugitives – Bester who escaped from Mangaung prison and his partner-in-crime Magudumana – was not a simple matter as the Tanzanians did not want to hand them over to the SAPS, but to Home Affairs officials.

He said they had to put together a team from immigration to work with the South African embassy in Tanzania for the deportation.

Motsoaledi, who was briefing members of the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on home affairs on Tuesday, said they had to look at options on how they were going to bring back the two suspects.

A team of 14 people from various state agencies including Home Affairs was put together to travel to Tanzania for the mission.

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Tanzania had decided to deport the two South Africans and insisted that immigration officials be the ones who pick them up in Arusha and not the SAPS.

Motsoaledi said Home Affairs did not own a plane, unlike the police and the army. They had to fly commercially to Tanzania, but had a big team of 14 people because each person had a role in the matter.

“We discovered that they must fly to Dar es Salaam, from Dar es Salaam they must hire at least two minibuses and drive 600km to Arusha. When they arrive in Arusha they must drive another 60m to Kilimanjaro where they will find Thabo Bester and Nandipha. We looked at the logistics and found that it can’t work. We decided to use the method we use when we deport our people from Lindela to other countries.

“Members of the committee know that from Lindela we hire buses and kombis to neighbouring countries. But for far away countries we are forced to charter a flight. We have got a database in Treasury, which is already pre-qualified and we just have to ask them. A database of companies that own chartered aircraft.

“We asked any company that could give us an airplane that can carry 14 people, which will be able to get landing rights and all documentation on their own without the help from the state in less than 24 hours, because as you know South Africans were eager to know whether this deportation is taking place, and there are companies who responded. The last one was the cheapest at R1.4 million. It was the cheapest of them all and we opted for that. We never asked anybody that we want a luxury flight as everybody is saying,” said Motsoaledi.

As this was a big team, they realised the cheapest was to charter a flight to Tanzania. The cheapest flight was R1.4m.

He said they had been working on the Bester and Magudumana case over the last few weeks.

Motsoaledi also reiterated that Bester had never had an identity document as this was a long and complicated matter that dated back to the time he was born in 1986.

Even his own mother did not have one until 2002 when her aunt, who was her mother’s younger sister, helped her get one.

By the time Bester’s mother, Meisie Maria Mabaso, went to get the ID he had already disappeared and the family did not know where he was.

In 2012 he was arrested and convicted for rape and murder.

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