'Facebook rapist' prison escape: Whose body replaced what was believed to be Thabo Bester's?

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Man resembling 'Facebook rapist' Thabo Bester photographed in a grocery store on 30 June 2022.
Man resembling 'Facebook rapist' Thabo Bester photographed in a grocery store on 30 June 2022.
PHOTO: GroundUp
  • The charred remains found at the prison "Facebook rapist" Thabo Bester escaped from showed signs of blunt force trauma sustained before the fire.
  • The identity of the body found in Cell 35 is unknown.
  • National police commissioner, General Fannie Masemola, ordered the prioritisation of investigations into the prison escape.

The quest to identify the burnt remains of a body found at Mangaung Correctional Centre after the escape of "Facebook rapist" Thabo Bester is in full swing.

Police are investigating a case of murder following the outcome of the DNA analysis which confirmed the body of the deceased was not Bester's.

An autopsy report revealed that the charred remains found at Mangaung prison, from where "Facebook rapist" Thabo Bester escaped, showed signs of blunt force trauma before the prison caught fire. This was first reported in an investigation by GroundUp.

READ | DCS confirms that 'Facebook rapist' Thabo Bester escaped prison

The DNA sequencing with a person identified as the mother of Bester failed to indicate a common ancestor or a match.

Police spokesperson, Brigadier Motantsi Makhele, said the autopsy report revealed that the deceased had died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, and was already dead, prior to the arson incident.

On Saturday, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) said Bester had escaped from prison. They added that the body found in Cell 35 at Mangaung Correctional Centre, following a fire on 3 May 2022, was not that of Bester.

Speaking to News24, DCS spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said the body found in Cell 35 has yet to be identified.

He said: 

All other inmates are accounted for except for Thabo Bester. The manhunt is on. We need to find Thabo Bester.

National police commissioner, General Fannie Masemola, said on Sunday that he had ordered the prioritisation of investigations into the prison escape case.

This is done in the best interest of justice for the victims and survivors, and the affected families, he said.

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Masemola also appealed to the public for patience and that detectives be allowed the space to conduct a thorough investigation towards building a watertight case that can ultimately 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," added Masemola.

Thabo Bester appears in court wearing light blue r
Thabo Bester
Gallo Images PHOTO: Shelley Christians, Gallo Images/The Times

Bester was dubbed the "Facebook rapist", as he used the social media platform to lure women, saying international modelling scouts were interested in them.

He would then rape and rob them at knifepoint, murdering at least one of his victims. In 2012, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for these crimes.

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