G4S lost control of Mangaung Prison after Thabo Bester escaped

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    Nat Quinn
    Following the daring escape of convicted murderer and rapist, Thabo Bester, from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in the Free State, National Commissioner of Correctional Services Makgothi Thobakgale announced the appointment of a temporary manager for the facility.
    Patrick Ali Mashabathakga was named the temporary manager for the facility with immediate effect.
    G4S is the contractor of the privately run Mangaung Correctional Centre, where Bester served his sentence.
    Thobakgale said Mashabathakga was an official of the correctional services department. He was appointed to the position of temporary manager according to the provisions of the Correctional Services Act.
    Thobakgale addressed the media at the Mangaung Correctional Centre on Thursday morning.
    “This is a necessary solution after this embarrassment, which has undermined the authority of the state. The contractor (G4S) was informed of the decision.
    “The findings of the report [on Thabo Bester’s prison escape] point out that the Director of the Mangaung Correctional Centre has lost effective control of the facility, and the Correctional Services Act does provide for a mechanism to restore safety and security by taking control of the correctional centre through the appointment of a temporary manager, ” said Thobakgale. “
    Thobakgale said the temporary manager would perform the functions of the director.
    “The contractor has been properly informed of this decision. Mashabathakga will be supported by other officials I have appointed to ensure that the Mangaung Correctional Centre can provide the necessary services without experiencing shortcomings.
    “Restoring control and prudent management systems are key priorities in the effective management of a correctional facility.
    “Critical to this is the enforcement of standard operating procedures where rules and regulations are aligned with humane treatment, safety and security of prisoners, officials and service providers,” Thobakgale said.
    Thobakgale explained that it was necessary that an intervention of this nature be undertaken due to a number of security breaches and other disturbing practices identified by the investigation report on Thabo Bester.
    “When put together with the post-mortem and DNA sequencing results, it becomes clear that we as Correctional Services are dealing with a well-calculated and organised escape debacle,” said Thobakgale.
    He said the South African Police Service was continuing investigations into Bester’s escape.
    “Thabo Bester was helped to escape from lawful custody on May 3, 2022, but the contractor maintains that he died in his cell. This is contrary to overwhelming scientific evidence available,” Thobakgale said.
    Thobakgale said a private vehicle was allowed inside the facility on the day of the escape without a gate pass, with possibly an unknown body burned beyond recognition in cell 35.
    “Tinkering with surveillance cameras suggests a failed monitoring system deliberately orchestrated to conceal crucial evidence and individuals who helped Bester escape.
    “It is also a failure to guarantee safekeeping of prisoners and a violation in terms of the responsibilities assigned to the contractor,” Thobakgale said.
    Bester is believed to have died in his jail cell in 2022, but was confirmed to have escaped from Mangaung prison last year. – SAnews.gov.za


    source:G4S lost control of Mangaung Prison after Thabo Bester escaped (afrinuus.com)

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