In a shocking turn of events, Thabo Bester, a convicted rapist, escaped from prison after faking his own death.
Dubbed the “Facebook rapist,” Bester allegedly lured victims on the social media platform before raping and robbing them.
He was sentenced to life in prison for rape, robbery, and murder of a model in 2012.
Authorities believed Bester had died after setting himself on fire in a privately-run prison in Bloemfontein in May last year.
However, over the weekend, police said DNA tests revealed the charred remains found in the serial rapist’s cell belonged to someone else.
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 country has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world, with more than 12,000 rapes recorded between October and December last year.
The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services said in a statement that it was appealing to the public for any information leading to Bester’s arrest.
“No stone will be left unturned in getting to the bottom of Thabo Bester’s escape, and there will be serious consequences for any party involved,” the ministry said.
Bester’s escape is a testament to the incompetence of the correctional services system, and the endemic corruption in the sector, according to the radical leftist opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters.
The unfolding of this story has been like a movie and sent shivers down everyone’s spines, says Bafana Khumalo, the co-director of NGO Sonke Gender Justice. “I can imagine what it did to the victims.”
This incident raises serious questions about the South African prison system’s security and the need for immediate reforms to ensure the safety of inmates and the public.