South Africa spends R1.4 million to charter private jet for “Facebook rapist” Thabo Bester


Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has disclosed that South Africa spent R1.4 million to charter a private jet for convicted rapist Thabo Bester. Motsoaledi made this revelation during the Portfolio Committee in Home Affairs today.

Last Friday, during a briefing by the Ministries of Justice and Correctional Services and Police, it was revealed that instead of using one of the jets owned by the South African government, army, or police, the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) chartered a private jet to bring back Bester and his alleged partner-in-crime, Dr Nandipha Magudumana from Tanzania.

Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach had asked SAPS why they opted to charter a private jet, instead of using the State, Army, or Police-owned jets. The question evoked allegations that Bester is politically connected, which made his escape from the Mangaung Correctional Centre possible.

However, SAPS failed to provide a concrete explanation for their decision. Minister of Police, Bhekokwakhe Bheki Cele, had initially stated that Tanzania had requested South Africa to charter a private jet to ferry the two fugitives. Bheki Cele refused to confirm his own statement.

We could not use police jet, says Home Affairs Minister

During today’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, Minister Motsoaledi confirmed that Tanzania had requested South Africa to charter the private jet. However, he insisted that the plane was not hired by SAPS but by Home Affairs because Tanzania had opted to deport Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana, making the issue an immigration affair.

Motsoaledi explained that using the army or police jet was not possible, as it would have created an international law quagmire. Additionally, flying commercial was not a feasible option.

Responding to criticism about using a luxury flight, Motsoaledi clarified, “The plane that went to Tanzania to fetch Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana was not hired by the Police. It was hired by us in Home Affairs because the Tanzanians opted for deportation, not extradition.

“When a person is deported to his or her country of origin, he or she is handed over only to immigration officials, not the police.

“The Tanzanians stated that they were not willing to hand over Thabo Bester to the police as the case had become a deportation matter, and they preferred immigration officials from Home Affairs to handle it”, Motsoaledi told the Portfolio Committee.

South Africa charters R1.4 million jet for rapist

Tanzania requested private jet

During the Portfolio Committee in Home Affairs, Motsoaledi explained that the request from Tanzania to hand over Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana to the Home Affairs put them in a difficult position as it was not feasible due to logistics.

“We don’t have a plane like the Police or the Army. Our only option was to fly commercial, which would require flying a team of 14 officials with different roles in the case. Then they would need to fly from Dar Es Salaam and hire two minibuses to drive 600 km to Arusha and another 60 km to Mount Kilimanjaro where Thabo Bester and Magudumana were being held,” Motsoaledi said.

As a result, Motsoaledi said his department decided to charter a private jet to ease the process as they department does when deporting illegal immigrants to other countries.

“We already have a database of pre-qualified operators of chartered aircraft who have landing rights and all documentation on their own without state involvement. We chose the cheapest option at R1.4 million. We never asked for a luxury flight”, Motsoaledi clarified.

He also explained that Tanzania refused to extradite Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana over fears of breaking international law on rendition.

The Prison Break

Thabo Bester, known in South Africa as the “Facebook rapist,” successfully staged a prison break from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein in May 2022. He faked his suicide by setting another person’s body alight in his cell.

A post-mortem conducted on the body found in the cell believed to be Thabo Bester revealed that the person was already dead before the fire broke out.

After his escape, the notorious criminal was living in Sandton and continued to run alleged fraudulent businesses, conning people and other women.

Thabo Bester’s wife, Dr. Nandipha Magudumana, is now facing charges of alleged murder, fraud, aiding and abetting Thabo Bester’s prison break, arson, and defeating the ends of justice.