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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Parliamentary report makes damning findings against G4S on Thabo Bester escape

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A Parliamentary report has made damning findings against G4S security company over the escape of Thabo Bester, and said the company misled the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) by claiming Bester had died, when he had actually escaped.

The report also found that G4S violated its contract with the DCS by allowing a private vehicle to bring Katlego Bereng’s body into the prison.

It said G4S security systems failed when Bester escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre.

The report was tabled before the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services.

The committee is scheduled to have a meeting with officials from the department, G4S and the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services in the next two weeks.

This is a follow-up meeting to the one held in Parliament last year after Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana were arrested in Tanzania.

Bester, Magudumana and several other alleged accomplices have been on trial since last year.

The report found that prison officials allowed a private vehicle to get into the prison.

It said officials put Bester in a separate cell a few days before his escape.

“The contractor misled the Department of Correctional Services by reporting unnatural death of offender Thabo Bester instead of aided escape,” the report found.

It found the contractor contravened the contract by bringing unauthorised items, including petrol and a corpse, into the facility. The contractor breached the contract by assisting offender Thabo Bester to escape from Mangaung Correctional Centre.

“The contractor’s intelligence system failed to gather, analyse and disseminate information, hence no alert of an escape which was planned by G4S officials. The contractor failed to monitor CCTV, and alarm security system which failed to alert the incident of escape,” found the report of the committee.

It said the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) said G4S reported the fire at Bester’s cell three hours after it occurred. The officials from G4S identified the body in the cell to be that of Bester, when it was Bereng’s body.

The police also investigated the role of Magudumana after she claimed to be the wife of Bester, said the report.

The committee is set to meet with officials from DCS, G4S and the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services to answer more questions on the escape of Bester and lifestyle audits of G4S officials.

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