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G4S hides prisoner’s letter to Ramaphosa

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    Nat Quinn

    G4S hides prisoner’s letter to Ramaphosa

    The letter sent to the President.

    The letter sent to the President.

    Johannesburg – Two prisoners from Mangaung maximum security prison in Bloemfontein wrote a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister Ronald Lamola and Judge Edwin Cameron in May last year exposing Thabo Bester’s well-orchestrated escape, but G4S didn’t forward it.

    The letter of complaint and request was sent to G4S, a company managing the prison on behalf of the government, as per protocol, but it was deleted and never forwarded to the intended recipients.

    Instead, a G4S assistant administrator, Abigail Willen, sent an email dated May 24, 2022, to her colleagues, advising them that “no complaint to be captured.”

    The email, seen by Sunday Independent, confirmed that the inmates had sent a letter to the company, as well as “the President, Lamola, Cameron etc.” and that Willen advised her colleagues that “the inmate must use his free envelope and send the letter himself.”

    The inmates wrote to G4S, copying Ramaphosa, Lamola and Judge Cameron, asking the company to release certain video footage captured on the prison camera, which would prove their case that Bester escaped with the help of certain officials and didn’t burn to death in his cell.

    Wellen, in her email sent at 3.57 pm on the day, stressed that “the video footage is a property of G4S and will therefore not be made available for inmates, but to bodies/organisations whose responsibilities require such.”

    The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) reported last week that G4S has been refusing to make certain video footage available to them to help them get to the bottom of Bester’s elaborate escape on May 3 last year.

    One of the prisoners, who wrote the letter, told the Sunday Independent this week that they were forced to ask Judge Cameron, as he is part of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS), to intervene and get them transferred to another prison for their safety after they were allegedly threatened by officials implicated in the Bester’s escape.

    Sunday Independent reported last week that Bester allegedly paid R5-million to nine officials who helped him to escape from jail after placing an unidentified body in his solitary cell and burnt it beyond recognition.

    Speaking about the letter this week, the prisoner, who asked not to be named, confirmed that they wrote a letter to G4S copying the president, the minister and the judge, but the company never sent it.

    “We were trying to blow the whistle and inform the relevant authorities that Bester faked his death on May 3 2022, to escape from prison with the assistance of certain officials. We wanted the president, the minister and the judge to send a delegation to come and investigate the corrupt collaboration of G4S, SAPS Bloemspruit in Bloemfontein and DCS seniors management known as prison controllers,” he said.

    The prisoner claims he and others personally witnessed Bester’s daring escape “hence, we were bold enough to put it in black and white in a letter to the president, the minister and the judge.”

    “We reported this matter in May last year, just a few days after Bester escaped, but G4S and DCS tried to cover it up,” he added.

    Judge Cameron confirmed this week that he was forced to intervene after receiving a letter from some of the prisoners from Mangaung but refused to comment on the matter.

    “I can only speak to the media after we have presented our report in Parliament. We were hoping that we were going to present our report on Tuesday, but it never happened,” the judge said.

    The Sunday Independent understands that after Judge Cameron received the letter in October last year, he sent a JICS investigator to Mangaung, where he interviewed the prisoners for two days, and three of the prisoners were transferred to another prison on November 2 for their safety.

    “I saw Bester walking out of his cell wearing warder’s uniform, accompanied by a well-known official, and my life was been threatened since then because I have been vocal about it,” the prisoner said.

    The prisoner added that on the day Bester escaped, he had a lot of money, “like a big toilet roll on top of his bed.”

    “I used to walk past via his cell and talk to him, and that day, as I walked by, he was busy with his laptop and had a lot of money on his bed,” he explained.

    Three officials implicated in this matter have been fired already, and six others suspended, pending an investigation.

    DCS spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said: STILL WAITING FOR THIS COMMENT.
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