Police in South Africa say they have launched a manhunt for a convicted rapist who faked his own death in a daring prison break that has shocked the country. Recent DNA tests reveal a body found in a prison and believed to be the serial sex offender Thabo Bester, is someone else.
Authorities said they had believed Bester died after setting himself alight in a privately run prison in Bloemfontein in May last year, but at the weekend, police said DNA tests revealed the charred remains found in the serial rapist’s cell belonged to someone else. “At this point, our priority is to find this fugitive of justice and establish exactly how he faked his death,” Police spokeswoman Athlenda Mathe told journalists on Monday.
Called the “Facebook Rapist”, Bester allegedly lured victims on the social media platform before raping and robbing them and at least one victim was killed. In 2012, he was sentenced to life in prison for rape, robbery and murder.
On Sunday, police said an autopsy revealed the person found dead in Bester’s 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.
“The unfolding of this story has been like a movie and sent shivers down everyone’s spines. I can imagine what it did to the victims,” said Bafana Khumalo, co-director of the NGO Sonke Gender Justice.
From October to December, police recorded more than 12,000 rapes across the country.
Doubts about Bester’s death were first raised by local media outlet GroundUp in November.
Photographs purportedly showing the convict grocery shopping in an affluent Johannesburg suburb have since surfaced. Some women have also come forward alleging the convict made contact with them on social media before his escape, Bester also reportedly ran a scam media business from inside prison using a false name.
According to reports, he posed as head of 21st Century Media, a phantom event and production company that was a supposed subsidiary of the American company 21st Century Fox.
It was gathered that the media company promoted a 2018 event that advertised Hollywood superstars but turned out to be a scam. A video of Bester addressing a company event via video call from behind bars while pretending to be in New York has gone viral.
“The escape of Bester is a testament to the incompetence of the Correctional Services system, and the endemic corruption in the sector,” the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters opposition party said in a statement.
Copyright: News Central TV
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central TV.