Government is severing ties with Bloemfontein Correctional Contracts, the consortium that’s contracted G4S to run the Mangaung Correctional Centre, where Thabo Bester escaped.
The Department of Correctional Services has issued the company with a 90-day contract termination notice. The department has been seeking a legal opinion on the matter and says it believes the company is not suitable to continue with the contract.
“DCS will immediately resume internal exercise for the takeover process. The contract does lay down a procedure to be followed in this regard,” the Correctional Services Department says in a statement.
Police unions, POPCRU and SAPU, have welcomed the news, with POPCRU saying the department’s decision should be a warning to companies who operate within the security sphere.
“This termination should send a clear message to all private companies operating within the security sphere that all laws of the republic should at all times be adhered to the latter. POPCRU will be monitoring the winding-up process over the coming days, and shall further ensure that Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) is followed to the latter during this period,” says the organisation’s Richard Mamabolo.
Mamabolo adds that the union will be engaging with DCS to fully acquaint itself with the unfolding process.
SAPU has on the other hand urged government to absorb correctional officers who’ll likely be left jobless after the contract ends in three month.
YNews spoke to SAPU’s Lesiba Thobakgale, who says, workers at the facility have long complained about mistreatment.
Last month, G4S left Members of Parliament hopping mad after it told the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services that CCTV cameras malfunctioned the night before Bester’s escape, allowing him unsupervised use of a personal laptop in prison, among others. G4S also admitted that it did not conduct a forensic investigation into Bester’s escape.
The company has fired three officials over the scandal. They are all, however, contesting their dismissal. Their case is before the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
Eight suspects nabbed so far
The developments come as South Africans gear up for the court appearances of some of the alleged role players in the audacious prison break that has left government with an egg on its face and many South Africans angry.
Yesterday, the police announced the arrest of two more former G4S employees – taking the number of suspects in the matter, so far, to eight.
These include the so-called Facebook rapist, his lover Dr Nandipha Magudumana, and her father, Zolile Sekeleni, who is out on R10 000 bail.
All the accused, except for Bester, will be appearing in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court tomorrow and Thursday for bail application.
Police Minister Bheki Cele believes more arrests are imminent and says the police are hard at work in a bid to find the big guns behind the escape.
The infamous Facebook rapist and murderer is expected to make his next court appearance on the 16th of this month. Bester, Magudumana and a Mozambican national were arrested in Tanzania last month. It is believed they were on their way to Kenya.
The body of the man who was used to fake Bester’s death has been identified as that of a 31-year-old Tembisa resident, Katlego Mpholo.
Written by: Lindiwe Mabena