It is not the first time that we have had criminals being talked about during Easter time. Jesus Christ who knew no sin was crucified along with two thieves, one who sought redemption and another who despised Him. On Good Friday Thabo Bester a rapist and murderer along with his accomplices were arrested miles away from South Africa in the land of Mwalimu, Julius Nyerere.
Thabo Bester, known as “The Facebook Rapist” escaped from prison on the 3rd of May 2022. Bester, who was imprisoned in Mangaung Correctional Centre for multiple cases of rape and murder, had been on the loose for almost a year after he was falsely declared dead by Correctional Services.
A communication was sent to Minister Cele on Friday alerting him that Bester had been found by the Tanzanian authorities. A delegation was dispatched from South Africa on Sunday to accompany Thabo back home where he will be returned to his cell and have more years added to his sentence.
In the weeks to come it is certain that the thriller will be on our screens, and it will occupy our minds. Thus far the police have been involved in a lot of interviews regarding the matter, mainly with SABC and ENCA. Something of interest to note from the interviews by the South African Police Service (SAPS) is that they are presenting themselves as having played a key role in the arrest. However, from the facts of the case, it is evident that it was Interpol and the Tanzanian authorities that did the work.
In fact, Thabo Bester and his team which we have just learnt comprise a Mozambican national, Dr Nandipa and her father, and another accomplice who is a former employee of G4S security managed to outsmart South African authorities. Bheki Cele and the team are trying to manage their already soiled reputation, however, with skyrocketing crime rate, they are literary hiding behind a finger.
One thing for certain is that many people have escaped from South African prisons, and they have not been caught, and many people are running the streets whilst in prison. In addition, many murderers and rapists are roaming free on the streets and adding more victims to their list as we speak. With a very low conviction rate, criminals can sleep well knowing that their chances of seeing the inside of a cell a low. In a recent interview at a crime scene, the police spokesperson also alluded to the fact that SAPS ranks have been infiltrated by criminals and gangsters.
The band-aiding will not work to solve the crime problems. What is needed in South Africa is an engine overhaul of the entire criminal justice system. That will take finances, expertise and the arrest of top guns in the system that have power and are misusing it.
Recently there has been an increase in the violence with which SAPS has pounced on criminals. The SAPS is literally cleaning the streets and saving the criminal justice system from being overburdened with pending cases. They seem to be doing things the Wild Wild West style. However, is this the appropriate approach in the context of a country that is struggling to curtail violence? When criminals know that any encounter with the police is a life-or-death situation, they will most likely arm themselves and train better. South Africa is at risk of becoming a war zone in certain areas. It is in the best interests of the nation for crime to be dealt with in a manner which gradually moves towards peaceful resolutions, justice and rehabilitation of criminals. We want peace at the end of the day.
Returning to the Bester case, it is reported that since Bester and his girlfriend Dr Nandina are in Tanzania illegally, they will be deported. Deportation is a much simpler process than extradition, which entails many engagements between the countries involved since the suspect would be legally in the country from which they are sought.