Thabo Bester did not commit suicide as the the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) initially reported, he escaped from prison, the department has confirmed.
The DCS received a report from the Mangaung Correctional Centre, a public-private partnership facility managed by G4S.
In a statement, it says it is now in a position to bring forth findings of its investigation on Bester.
This is despite the department saying for months that the investigations were ongoing in response to a GroundUp investigation.
It was reported that Bester committed suicide by setting himself on fire in his cell in May of last year.
This comes after the discovery of a badly burned body inside his cell. However, DNA tests on the body suggested otherwise.
Correctional Services spokesperson, Singabakho Nxumalo says, “DCS is now in a position to bring forth findings of its investigation on Thabo Bester, an offender sentenced to life and 75 years imprisonment.
A post-mortem conducted on the body that burnt beyond recognition in Cell 35 at Mangaung Correctional Centre, revealed that it was an adult male with blunt force trauma to his head.
The post-mortem report further revealed that there were no signs of smoke inhalation in the body.
Furthermore, it uncovered that the pancreas and the spleen in the body were in the early stages of decomposition.
The DNA sequencing with a person identified to be the mother of Bester failed to indicate a common ancestor or a match.”
Nxumalo says they have now embarked on a manhunt for Bester.
“Therefore, a closable conclusion will mean that the body is not of Thabo Bester. This is the basis upon which the Correctional Services investigation report concluded. That Thabo Bester escaped from custody. On the 3rd of May 2022. Critically at this stage is for him to be found. We are appealing to the public to assist with the information that will lead to the re-arrest of Thabo Bester.”