April 25, 2023

BBC News

3 min read

Body used in South African rapist's prison break identified

Body used in South African rapist's prison break identified

SA "Facebook Rapist", Thabo Bester

Story highlights

    The father of Katlego Bereng Mpholo says he needs "the truth and nothing but the truth"
    Bester allegedly escaped from prison dressed as a warder

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THE father of a man whose body was used by a notorious South African rapist to escape from prison has demanded to know how his son died.

Thabo Bester managed to break out of prison last year after faking his own death by setting fire to his cell.

A body was found inside, which was initially believed to be Bester's but it has now been identified as belonging to Katlego Bereng Mpholo.

His father, Batho Mpholo, says he needs "the truth and nothing but the truth".

He says that police told him that his son had collapsed in the streets of Bloemfontein and then died in hospital, before he was taken to a mortuary.

"How did Thabo Bester get hold of my son's body if he was in a government mortuary," he asked in an interview with the ENCA news channel.

He later said he would sue the state.

When the body found in the cell was re-examined in March this year after suspicions were raised by local media, it was found that the person had died as a result of blunt-force trauma to the head.

Mpholo says he does not believe the police account of what had happened to his son, who was aged 30 when he went missing in April 2022.

The South African police declined to comment on Mpholo's statement, beyond saying that they were pleased to bring closure to the family.

He says relatives went to Bloemfontein's mortuaries looking for his son and there was no sign of him - and no news until his mother was asked to do a DNA test last week.

He describes his son as a fun-loving soccer fan, who leaves behind a daughter aged four and a son aged two.

"I am broken. My heart is shattered into a million pieces," he told the News24 website.

He says the family has not yet seen his body, and so hasn't been able to start organising a funeral.

Katlego Bereng Mpholo's mother, Monica Matsie, broke down in tears while being interviewed by national broadcaster, SABC.

During the confusion caused by the fire in the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein, Bester managed to escape from prison dressed as a warder.

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News of the escape caused widespread shock and outrage in South Africa, where local media dubbed him the "Facebook rapist" because he used the site to lure women with promises of jobs before attacking them.

He had been serving a life sentence after being convicted in 2012 for the rape and murder of his model girlfriend Nomfundo Tyhulu.

The previous year, he had been found guilty of raping and robbing two other women.

After his escape Bester managed to live undetected for a year before he was arrested earlier this month in Tanzania and then deported to South Africa, along with his girlfriend, celebrity doctor Nandipha Magudumana.

Dr Magudumana, her father and two employees of the British security firm, G4S which ran the prison have been arrested for allegedly helping him escape. They have not yet commented on the accusations. – BBC News

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