Thabo Bester: SA celebrity doctor’s father charged over rapist’s escape
The father of a celebrity doctor and a prison warden have been charged in South Africa with helping a notorious rapist and murderer escape from jail.
Thabo Bester was arrested in Tanzania on Friday having fled from jail last May by faking his own death in a fire and planting a corpse in his cell.
He was arrested with his girlfriend, celebrity doctor Nandipha Magudumana.
Her father and a prison warden have now been charged with murder, arson, and aiding and abetting Bester’s escape.
Zolile Sekeleni and Senohe Matsoara, a suspended prison warden, are accused of intentionally killing an unidentified person last March.
The two men appeared in a magistrate’s court in the South African city of Bloemfontein.
They were not asked to plead, and no further details were given of the charges.
The case was postponed to 17 April for a possible bail application.
Bester was at large for a year after it was thought he had died in a fire in his prison cell in Bloemfontein.
A manhunt was launched last month after a new post-mortem investigation revealed the body was not actually his.
He and the celebrity doctor are now under heavy police guard at a prison in the Tanzanian city of Arusha, following their arrest last week.
South African officials have travelled to Tanzania to secure the couple’s deportation.
Bester’s escape sparked outrage in South Africa, which has one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the world.
He was known as the “Facebook rapist” for using the social networking site to lure his victims.
He was convicted in 2012 for the rape and murder of his model girlfriend Nomfundo Tyhulu. A year earlier, he was found guilty of raping and robbing two other women.
Last May, it was reported he had been found dead in his cell after apparently setting himself on fire at the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein.
However, local media began to raise doubts about Bester’s death late last year.
In March, police opened a new murder investigation after further tests revealed the deceased was not Bester – and that the unidentified person had died from blunt-force trauma to the head.
Employees of the British-owned security company G4S, which ran the prison where he was held, have been accused of helping him flee.
It has said three employees were dismissed in connection with the incident.
Last week, representatives for the organisation failed to attend a meeting in parliament about Bester’s escape. The BBC has approached G4S for comment.
There have been many reported sightings of Bester over the past year, including claims he was grocery shopping in an affluent suburb of Johannesburg, and was living in a rented mansion there.