Officials at Thabo Bester prison jump ship amid probe

Seven G4S officials, who were facing a probe, have jumped ship, and five more are on suspension, with one official having been dismissed, an internal observation report has revealed.

At least 13 officials from the scandal-ridden private prison, Mangaung Correctional Centre, where Thabo Bester escaped, are facing the music for “improper dealings with inmates”.

An internal observation report by the department of correctional services official, seen by Sunday World, paints an ugly picture of the facility.

The report alleges that the department’s officials, along with G4S members, are running syndicates within the centre which include a sex ring, where female officials “render sexual services to offenders for a fee averaging R1 000 to R1 500 per encounter”.

The report also alleges that the selling of drugs in the facility is rife, especially dagga, which the report describes as “a rare commodity which is in demand and is lucrative in revenue”.

The observation report focuses on matters that occurred on May 22-25, 2023, and claims the G4S intelligence officers “are well-heeled into the syndicate of activities at the Mangaung Correctional Centre”.

The report names seven officers allegedly involved in “drug syndicates and sex trafficking”, also revealing the prevalence of a prostitution ring with “female G4S staff rendering sexual services to offenders”.

The G4S is a multinational security company that is running the centre on behalf of the government for a R44-million fee a month.

Mangaung, along with Kutama Sinthumule Correctional facility in Makhado, Limpopo, are the only two private prisons in the country.

Kutama Sinthumule facility, which was gutted by angry inmates in August last year, is undergoing renovations.

A department of correctional services interim management team has taken over the running of Mangaung facility after the G4S was found implicated in Bester’s escape. Department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo on Friday confirmed that some G4S officials, who were facing a probe involving Bester’s “improper dealings with inmates”, have resigned.

“A total of seven G4S officials resigned when investigations were instituted due to “improper dealings with inmates”. Currently on suspension are five officials, with one of them having been dismissed,” Nxumalo said.

Nxumalo added some of the allegations contained in the report are part of the ongoing investigation in that facility.

“A significant amount of detail in that report relates to what the offenders verbally provided to the team. Such would call for an in-depth investigation to be conducted in order to ascertain any level of truthfulness.

“That investigation is yet to be concluded as some of its aspects also relate to the Thabo Bester escape incident,” he said.

Sunday World can today reveal that some of the officials implicated in the observation report opted to resign before the investigation was completed.

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