Mali Safi Inaozea Jela

On 3 May 2022, Bester was declared dead after a fire broke out in his cell at Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein and a body was found, burned beyond recognition. The Department of Correctional Services announced his death to the public on the same day and said that he had committed suicide. In October 2022, South African news agency GroundUp published an article by Marecia Damons raising questions about the investigation into Bester’s death.[11] In January 2023, GroundUp published another article by Damons citing post-mortem results on the body found in Bester’s cell, which found that the body was dead before the fire broke out. The GroundUp article also revealed that the police had started to investigate a murder.[12]

On 15 March 2023, GroundUp published a third article, by Marecia Damons and Daniel Steyn, revealing evidence that Bester had faked his death in the fire and escape from prison.[13] The article also mentioned a court case brought by Nandipha Magudumana, a celebrity doctor, to get the body found in the cell, which was believed to be that of Bester at the time, returned to her. In her court papers, Magudumana claimed to be Bester’s customary law wife.

On 17 March 2023, Damons and Steyn published another article containing pictures of Bester and Magudumana shopping in a Woolworths grocery store in Sandton City.[14] A week later, after public outcry, the Department of Correctional Services admitted that Bester had escaped from prison.[15]

Private security firm, Fidelity, took to Facebook to offer a R100,000 award for any information that led to the arrest and conviction of Bester.[16] It was later confirmed by police in April 2023 that the burnt body was that of Katlego Bereng Mpholo who had gone missing in April 2022.[17][18]

In testimony before parliament in April 2023, Inspecting Judge for Correctional Services Edwin Cameron said that he was the source of information leaked to GroundUp.[19]

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