Shocking prison break fugitive returned to S. Africa

A South African fugitive who faked his own death in a prison break that embarrassed the authorities has been extradited from Tanzania, the government said on Thursday.

Thabo Bester, convicted of rape and murder, escaped from a privately-run prison in Bloemfontein in May last year — but South African police only found out last month.

Bester was believed to have died after setting himself on fire behind bars, but in late March police said DNA tests revealed the charred remains found in his cell belonged to someone else.

Dubbed the “Facebook rapist”, Bester — who was sentenced to life in prison for rape, robbery and murder in 2012 — lured victims on the social media platform before raping and robbing them. He killed at least one victim.

On Saturday, South African Justice Minister Ronald Lamola announced that Bester had been arrested by Tanzanian authorities on Friday night along with a woman, a Mozambican national with whom he is reportedly romantically involved.

On Thursday, Lamola said the pair had been extradited to South Africa.

“We can confirm that these fugitives have been returned to South Africa” from Tanzania, Lamola told a press conference in Cape Town.

“Mr Thabo Bester has been readmitted into the Kgosi Mampuru central maximum correctional facility”, Lamola said, thanking the Tanzanian government.

The woman was under arrest pending a court appearance later on Thursday, he said.

Bester and the woman landed at a privately-owned airport north of Johannesburg in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The father of the woman was earlier this week charged with murder in connection with the man found dead in Bester’s cell.

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