South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi has revealed how much it cost the state to bring back fugitive couple, Thabo Bester and Nandipha Magudumana, from Tanzania where they were in hiding.
Speaking to the Portfolio Committee on Tuesday, Mr. Motsoaledi insisted that he wanted to dismiss the public notion that Bester and Magudumana were repatriated from Tanzania in great comfort and luxury.
Bester was re-arrested in Tanzania last Friday, having fled from the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein in May 2022 by faking his death and planting a corpse in his cell. He was arrested together with his girlfriend, celebrity doctor Magudumana, in Tanzania.
Bester, a convicted murderer and rapist, has already appeared at the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court and will be back in the dock on May 16.
Assisting in prison escape
Magudumana also appeared in court for her alleged role in helping Bester escape prison. In addition, Magudumana’s father, Zolile Sekeleni, along with former G4S employee Senohe Matsoara and camera installer Teboho Lipholo are charged with assisting Bester to escape from prison.
Mr. Motsoaledi has set the record straight, stating that the R1.4 million [$80,000] chartered flight was the cheapest option.
He also revealed that Bester could not return to South Africa on a commercial passenger flight as it would have been careless and would have taken a while to transport the pair.
The minister confirmed that 14 officials had to travel to the Kenya-Tanzania border to repatriate the two fugitives.
Why not commercial flight
“I don’t think any aircraft [company] would have allowed that situation. I don’t remember where thugs of this nature flew around the world on commercial flights. We have never deported anybody on a commercial flight,” said Mr Motsoaledi.
“When we deported Congolese Papy Sukami… imagine we put that man into an aircraft with other innocent passengers on a commercial flight. I am sorry, but we cannot do that, as much as we want to save money.”
“If we did that, you members of parliament would be tearing me apart for being careless. We took the cheapest flight. This was the best option over going on a commercial flight.”
Mr Motsoaledi said that Tanzanian officials had wanted Bester and Magudumana to be handed over to immigration officials.
“They opted on deportation, not extradition or any other system,” he said.
“And when a person is deported to your country of origin, they are handed only to immigration officials of that country, not any other authorities. And the Tanzanians said they are not prepared to hand over Thabo Bester to police.”