G4S guard gets disciplinary hearing for involvement in Bester’s case

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Motanyane John Masukela (51), accused in the Bester escape case, in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court. PHOTO: Lucky Nkuyane

A G4S security guard and suspect in the Thabo Bester escape case, accused of allowing through a vehicle carrying the body of the victim in cell 35, is set to undergo a disciplinary hearing for his alleged involvement.

Accused 6, Motanyane John Masukuela, also known as Buti, was served with papers by the controversial British security company whilst in incarceration. This now contradicts the state’s witness evidence or testimony given on Friday when it stated all G4S-linked suspects were dismissed from work due to Bester’s escape.

G4S is charging Masukela for gross insubordination, negligence, contravention or failure to comply with the companies’ condition of services and giving false evidence or representation. Motanyane was arrested on Tuesday 18 April 2023 at the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein and faces a charge of assisting an inmate to escape from lawful custody and defeating the ends of justice.

The state’s witness from the South African Police Services (SAPS) told the court that Motanyana, who was on duty when Katlego Bereng’s body was brought in a private vehicle behind a television cabinet, driven by accused 1, Senohe Matsoara, failed to search this particular vehicle and also helped Matsoara to offload Bereng’s body and take it inside the premises of G4S. This was said during the bail hearing of five suspects at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Thursday and Friday last week.

Matsoara brought Bereng’s body inside the prison facilities on 29 April 2022, driving a vehicle hired by Bester’s girlfriend Dr Nandipha Magudumana’s father, Zolile Sekeleni, on 27 April 2022 at the OR Tambo airport. On 29 April, Matsoara drove the vehicle in at 17:00 when he went to work.

Magudumana fraudulently claimed this body as the body of Zanda Moyo’s brother and claimed to be helping Moyo to have the corpse buried.

“The dead body was taken to the Thusanong Mortuary for the preparation of the burial and the staged funeral was held in phase two where Matsoara got the body from,” the witness told the court.

‘Police found three bags of maize flour in casket’

He also revealed during his testimony at this bail hearing that Bereng’s body, which was claimed by Magudumana, was never buried or inside the casket, the police found three bags of 10kg maize flour.

Matsoara, on 29 April, arrived at G4S at an entrance called Sally port, which was controlled on that day by accused 6, Masukela. To enter Sally port, you must have a gate pass which only a supervisor provides. This is controlled by officials in the control room.

Matsoara did not have the gate pass to gain entry into the premises. In the van, there was a television cabinet and behind it, a bag carrying the dead body. He was not searched and he wasn’t on duty on that day.

’There was no such emergency’

“At the gate, Masukela allegedly demanded a gate pass from Matsoara and at some point, Masukela’s operational supervisor heard about this and also demanded a gate pass after hearing that Matsoara wanted to gain entry. The supervisor got an emergency call, indicating there was an emergency at Campus. During our investigations, we found out that there was no such emergency,” the witness testified.

Matsoara went in without being searched and the vehicle went to the workshops, dropped off the television cabinet and body, and later drove off.

The body was taken by accused 3 Teboho James Lipholo on 30 April and placed inside a trolley dustbin. He was pretending to clean the prison yard and took it to Broadway, where Bester was kept, through an emergency door and did not use the ordinary door. This was done to avoid the search.

The witness said gaining entry into Broadway is controlled by CCR monitors. Lipholo has confessed to being part of the Bester escape and also told a tale of Matsoara’s involvement in this.

Accused 6, Buti Masukela, and accused 3, Teboho James Lipholo, appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court in the Bester escape case. PHOTO: Lucky Nkuyane

During the meeting with members of parliament (MPs), G4S officials told MPs that 23 officials were on duty during the night of Bester’s escape, of which 7 were suspended whilst 3 have been fired from G4S.

So far, eight people have been arrested for his escape. This also includes her father, Sekeleni, who is currently out on bail of R10 000.

Bester escaped from the Mangaung Prison in Bloemfontein on 3 May 2022 and allegedly lived in the lap of luxury in Johannesburg following his escape. The Tanzanian police arrested Bester and his girlfriend Dr Nandipha Magudumana after being on the run.

The bail application of the five accused charged with varying charges in the Thabo Bester escape was postponed to 16 May 2023. The defence lawyer for accused 1, Matsoara, asked for a postponement.

Lawyer Kagisho Moruri told the Bloemfontein Magistrate Mohlolo Khabisi that he need to prepare and further consult with his client in light of new evidence against him.

A state witness from the SAPS Provincial Organised Crime Unit testified about the police investigation of Bester’s escape from the Mangaung Prison on 3 May 2023. He shed light on how each suspect is or was involved in aiding and abetting the convicted rapist and murderer.

On 16 May, all accused – including Bester and Magudumana – might appear alongside each other.

Bester’s appearance might be virtually postponed. He is kept at the Kgosi Mampuru Maximum Correctional Centre. This will then allow for the continuation of bail for the five accused.

On Thursday 11 May, Magudumana reserved her right to apply for bail whilst her father Zolile Sekeleni is out on R10 000 bail.

OFM News/Lucky Nkuyane