Notorious “Facebook Rapist” Captured in Tanzania after Faking Death in South African Prison
A convicted rapist and murderer who staged his own death and escaped a South African prison has been apprehended in Tanzania. Thabo Bester, known as the “Facebook rapist” for using the social media platform to target his victims, was on the run for a year after reportedly faking his death in a prison cell fire.
Last month, a manhunt was initiated when a new post-mortem examination disclosed that the body found in Bester’s cell was not his. The unidentified individual had died from blunt-force trauma to the head rather than burns, prompting authorities to re-open the investigation.
Bester was finally captured on Friday in Tanzania, accompanied by his girlfriend and a third suspect. The trio, believed to have been planning to flee to Kenya, will be extradited to South Africa to face justice.
In 2012, Bester was convicted for the rape and murder of his model girlfriend, Nomfundo Tyhulu. Prior to this, in 2011, he had been found guilty of raping and robbing two other women. Bester had garnered a reputation for exploiting Facebook to lure his victims.
His supposed death occurred in May at the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein, where it was initially reported that he had set himself on fire in his cell. However, doubts began to emerge in local media circles toward the end of last year.
G4S, a British-owned security company responsible for operating the prison, has faced accusations of aiding Bester’s escape. The company stated that three employees were dismissed in connection with the incident. G4S representatives failed to attend a parliamentary meeting this week regarding Bester’s escape, and the BBC has reached out to the organization for comment.
Over the past year, there have been numerous reported sightings of Bester, including claims that he was shopping for groceries in an affluent Johannesburg suburb and residing in a rented mansion there.
Bester’s escape and subsequent recapture have incited public outrage in South Africa, a country grappling with one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the world.