Prison officials in hot water for allowing Thabo Bester to wear luxury brand sweater

Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana Picture: Se-Anne Rall

Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana Picture: Se-Anne Rall

Published Aug 15, 2023


Johannesburg - Correctional Services Commissioner Makgoth Samuel Thobakgale said an undisclosed number of officials were in trouble for allowing convicted murderer Thabo Bester to wear a white Louis Vuitton sweater valued at around R15 000 to court last week.

Thobakgale said accused persons were allowed to wear private clothes when appearing in court; however, he emphasised the importance of respecting the court.

Thobakgale was speaking in an interview with eNCA’s Dr JJ Tabane on Monday night.

He said the dress sense of many outfits undermined the criminal justice system, and they needed to deal with it.

‘’I warned him (Bester) to respect the court, and those officials on duty were warned too, but Bester wore his sweater in court. I told him to respect the court. Those officials are facing disciplinary action,’’ said Thobakgale.

To add salt to the wound, Bester’s girlfriend, Nandipha Magudumana, was seen sporting a crisp-white Nike sweater.

Whenever the pair appeared in court, they trended for their expensive fashion taste, which many people voiced as arrogant and lacking in remorse to the families of victims, including that of Katlego Bereng.

His charred body was found in Bester’s cell 35. The family still attends court cases, saying they want justice for their loved one who died and left two young children without a father.

The two were arrested and deported to South Africa after fleeing the country amid reports Bester escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Facility run by G4S security.

Bester escaped from the facility in May last year, but correctional services only noticed a while later, and together with police, they apprehended him this year. The escape is similar to a series or a movie.

Thobakgale said he has 39 000 employees looking after 152 000 people in 243 centres across the country.

‘’I also have 58 000 that are in the parole system that need to be visited and monitored on a daily basis. Out of the 30 000, only 27 000 are security officers. We have officers that are committed and put their lives on the line on a daily basis, given all the challenges that we face as DCS. Bester is a non-issue; remember, he escaped from a private facility. If he had escaped from our facility, we would have gotten hold of him within 48 hours. All those escapades he was involved in wouldn't have happened,’’ Thobakgale said.

Last month, Thobakgale took some members of the media to Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Facility, where Bester is kept. He was in an isolated cell, and accused prison officials of inhumane treatment.

Last week, his legal representative told the court he was handcuffed while inside his cell.

"Bester is not in any business now. I took media to his cell," he said.

Bester also claimed that when apprehended in Tanzania, in his possession, he had two Rolex watches worth R2.6 million, a ring worth R350 000, a cup holder worth R15 000, 500 000 euros, $37 0000 (about R750 000), and two iPhones.

Thobakgale said the national commissioner of SAPS indicated that Bester must go to Tanzania to ask what happened to his money and whatever he lost.

"He is incarcerated properly," Thobakgale said.

The Star