The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has noted media reports on allegations regarding the death of inmate Thabo Bester in custody. On 3 May 2022, DCS issued a brief alert confirming an incident of death in custody, at Mangaung Correctional Centre (MCC) which is one of our public-private partnership (PPP) facilities, following reports of a fire in a single cell allocated to the said inmate.
We further disclosed that his body was discovered by officials employed at MCC at about 03h35. A burnt body meant that this case could not be classified as a natural death; hence, an investigation needed to be undertaken in order to determine the cause of death. This is a standard practice for all unnatural death cases in correctional facilities.
An unnatural death will also mean that the South African Police Service needed to be involved in order to conduct an investigation, should there be foul play or a criminal element involved. DCS has been inundated with media enquiries on the matter and we have clearly stated that the investigation is ongoing and there are no new developments. Almost all media enquiries received were relying heavily on the so-called leaks from unidentified sources.
It would be irresponsible for DCS to respond on unconfirmed or unofficial reports. What we have seen in the past two days relates to the information supplied by these unauthorised sources and the Department is pressured to confirm nor deny these reports. Let us reiterate that the investigation on the death of Thabo Bester has not been concluded and the autopsy report has not been tabled before the Department.
The matter has become a subject of public interest and the Department is pressing on the investigation team to conclude its work so that the findings could be made available.
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