By Mogomotsi Magome | Associated Press
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African convicted murderer who faked his death to escape prison has been arrested in Tanzania after a two-week manhunt, police have announced.
South African officials are heading to Tanzania on Sunday to begin the extradition of 35-year-old Thabo Bester, dubbed the “Facebook rapist” for using the social media platform to lure at least two women he was convicted of raping . He was also found guilty of killing one.
Bester was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012 and in May last year it was reported that he died in a fire in his cell.
However, reports surfaced that he had been seen in Johannesburg and an investigation, including DNA samples, showed that the body found burned beyond recognition in the holding cell was not his.
Two weeks ago, police said they were in pursuit of Bester, and last week they raided a lavish house he is believed to be renting in an upscale suburb of Johannesburg.
Bester was apprehended along with his girlfriend Nandipha Magudumana, a well-known celebrity doctor, and a Mozambican national who allegedly helped them cross the border and evade law enforcement, officials announced.
They were found with several fake passports that had not been stamped at the time of their arrest, about 10 kilometers (6 mi) from the Kenyan border.
Authorities have now begun the process of extraditing the fugitives to South Africa, where they are expected to face several charges. “An official delegation from South Africa, consisting of senior officials from the police and the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services, will depart for Tanzania on Sunday,” Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said on Saturday when Bester’s arrest was announced.
South African news outlet GroundUp reported that Bester had been living a lavish life with Magudumana in Johannesburg’s posh suburb of Hyde Park for almost a year after his escape from prison.
While in prison, Bester used a laptop he had for studies to run an events and production company, GroundUp reported. At one point, he addressed a conference from his prison cell and told attendees he was speaking from the US, it reported.
Bester’s elaborate breakout from prison has raised many questions about the possible involvement of prison officials.
According to local reports, at least three officials have been fired from the Mangaung Correctional Center from which Bester escaped. The prison was privately run by the British security company G4S. The South African government has now taken over management of the maximum security prison and has announced that the G4S contract to run the prison will not be renewed when it expires in 2026.