Police officials in South Africa have launched a nationwide manhunt for a convicted rapist known as the “Facebook Rapist,” after he faked his death and escaped a privately-run maximum security prison in Bloemfontein, CBS News reports.
In 2012, Thabo Bester was sentenced to life in prison for the rape, robbery, and murder of a model. He had previously been convicted of raping and robbing two aspiring models that he had lured through Facebook. In May of 2022, a spokesperson from The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) announced Bester’s death. They claimed that a fire had started in his prison cell at the Mangaung Correctional Centre, taking his life.
Almost a year later, after investigating the death further, DNA tests revealed that the burned remains found in the serial rapist’s cell belong to someone else. The victim used to fake Bester’s death has yet to be identified, but an autopsy revealed that the cause of death was from blunt force trauma to the head before being set on fire. Officials are now investigating the incident as a homicide.
The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services is now offering a reward for those with any information leading to Bester’s re-arrest.
“No stone will be left unturned in getting to the bottom of Thabo Bester’s escape, and there will be serious consequences for any party involved,” the ministry said in a statement.