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How South Africa’s Facebook rapist was arrested fleeing to Kenya

The most wanted criminal in South Africa, known by the street moniker Facebook rapist, was arrested at Kenyan Border with his socialite girlfriend.

Details have emerged on how the plans of Thabo Bester, a notorious rapist who escaped from a prison in South Africa in May 2022, were foiled as he attempted to enter Kenya.

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Bester, who had staged a prison break from a privately-run facility in Bloemfontein, had been on the run ever since.

However, he was finally arrested in Tanzania on April 8, 2023, just 10 kilometers from the Kenyan border, along with his socialite girlfriend, Dr. Nandipha Magudumana, and a Mozambican national.

The arrest was not without drama, as officers from The International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) tracked down Bester and his entourage to a local hotel in Tanzania.

When the fugitives left the premises in a black Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), they were pursued by the authorities and stopped before crossing into Kenya.

According to the South African Police Minister Bheki Cele, Bester, and Magudumana were found in possession of multiple passports, none of which were stamped, making it difficult to determine which border they had crossed to escape South Africa.

“We are told they were 10 kilometers from Kenya, (planning) to move from Tanzania to Kenya. So it does look like they were headed to the next country,” Mr Cele said.

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The Tanzanian government has pledged to cooperate with South Africa to ensure the three are deported back to face justice.

Bester is expected to face additional charges for his prison break and the murder of an unidentified person who was found in his cell during the escape.

The body was initially believed to be Bester’s, but doubts were raised by a South African publication, prompting a fresh murder investigation.

Bester had been serving a life sentence for rape, robbery, and murder since 2012. His modus operandi was to use social media to lure women before raping and robbing them.

He escaped prison using a smuggled cell phone to coordinate with his accomplices outside.

The arrest of Bester and his girlfriend will bring relief to his victims and their families living in fear of his potential return to society.

It is a victory for law enforcement and a testament to international cooperation’s importance in tracking criminals on the run.

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A delegation from South Africa is currently in Tanzania to discuss the deportation of the fugitives back to their home country.

The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola also said that the Tanzanian government was willing to ensure that the three are deported back to South Africa to face the law.

“We are confident that indeed the good mutual working relations we have with Tanzania will enable us to ensure that all the fugitives South Africa is looking for… can be brought back to South Africa as speedily as possible,” Mr Lamola said.

Asked what are some of the charges that Mr Bester and the lover will be facing, the Minister said that Ms Magudumana’s was clear as she assisted the fiancé to escape from prison and South Africa.

“Firstly, you will understand that she [Magudumana] helped Mr Bester to escape. So, that is the charge that she will face,” he said.

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However, Mr Lamola said that police officers would be the ones to decide on what they were planning to charge them with.

In 2012 he was sentenced to life in prison for rape, robbery, and murder.

Last month, after it emerged that he had escaped from prison, he even managed to fake his own death.

It is worth noting that during the prison break, a body of an unidentified person was found inside the cell where he had been locked in.

An autopsy was carried out on the person’s body found in his cell, and it emerged that he had died due to blunt force trauma to the head before it was set ablaze. The body’s identity is still unknown.

Immediately after the incident, an investigation by British Private Security Company G4S, which operates the prison, said three staff members had been dismissed.

Early last week, police in South Africa raided a villa in an affluent Johannesburg suburb where Bester was thought to have spent time hiding with Magudumana. They did not find him.

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