In an interview on eNCA on Saturday, Department of Corrections (DCS) spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said the department does not have an autopsy report on the body found in the prison cell of rapist and murderer Thabo Bester.
Almost a year ago, on May 3, 2022, DCS announced that Bester had died after a fire in his cell. But there was strong evidence that the body found in the cell was not Bester’s and that Bester had escaped from prison.
Although Nxumalo said his Department did not have the post-mortem (autopsy) report, GroundUp did. It ended on May 4, 2022, one day after the fire. This is a public document part of the court record.
Here it is (PDF 17MB). (We’ve removed the last two pages because they contain irrelevant identifying information.)
“We are fulfilling our promise of May 3, 2022,” Nxumalo said on Saturday. This is despite strong evidence published this week suggesting that Bester may have escaped prison.
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Nxumalo said on eNCA that when an unnatural death is reported in prison, such as in the case of a fire, an autopsy must be conducted and the cause of death must be identified. “As we sit now, the Correctional Service has no results [the police] investigation, we don’t have an autopsy report,” Nxumalo said.
The results of the autopsy were mentioned in a report written by judges Nokuthula Daniso and Ilse Van Rhyn and submitted in December last year. GroundUp published an article about this in January.
We obtained the post-mortem report from the papers filed in the Pretoria High Court on 31 May 2022.
In the autopsy report, which was attached to the police’s answering affidavit, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy, Dr. Jacobus Fouche, wrote that the autopsy was completed on May 4, 2022 and that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.
GroundUp understands that due to the findings of the autopsy report, police documents relating to the case were changed from suicide to murder.
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The court case was brought by celebrity doctor Nandipha Magudumana. He approached the Pretoria High Court in May 2022 to have the body returned to him after it was confiscated by the police. She had collected the body on May 6, claiming to be Bester’s common law wife.
The same court papers revealed that a woman claiming to be Bester’s mother tried to claim the body, but was denied after her DNA did not match the body.
The post-mortem report also revealed the following:
- His face and hands were badly burned, while his whole body was badly burned;
- A strong smell of paraffin suggested that an accelerant was used in the fire;
- His height is 1.45m. In the police mugshot, Bester stood taller than 1.7m.
eNCA presenter Heidi Giokos asked Nxumalo why almost a year later, DCS still has no report. Nxumalo said: “I must say that this is not an unusual thing. Unfortunately, we are waiting for some time to get this autopsy report.
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GroundUp has been publishing stories on Thabo Bester since November 2022. It has given DCS and the South African Police Service (Saps) several opportunities to answer questions and evidence they have found, but more often than not they have not received satisfaction. answer.
This week, after releasing the latest report, Police Minister Bheki Cele stated that the body has not been positively identified as Thabo Bester through DNA testing. “It might be true if there were people there,” he said.
He said he would discuss the matter with Justice and Corrections Minister Ronald Lamola.
Saps told GroundUp that the investigation is ongoing and “has reached a critical stage”.
In a statement released on Friday, DCS said there have been “no new developments” in the investigation – 10 months after the fire broke out in the cell where Bester was detained. The department also said the investigation was ongoing and could not confirm or deny the information in the report.
This article originally appeared on Moneyweb and is republished with permission. Read the original article here.