Cape Town – MPs were left enraged on Tuesday after G4S, the security company managing the Mangaung prison where “Facebook rapist” Thabo Bester was imprisoned before he escaped, failed to show up at a committee meeting to discuss the events that led to the escape.
On Monday the security company indicated its interest in appearing before Parliament in a letter sent to the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services.
According to IOL, the chairperson of the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services, Bulelani Magwanishe, said he had received a letter from G4S stating that it would not join the meeting on Tuesday in Parliament because of contractual obligations unless it was summonsed by Parliament.
But MPs were up in arms and adamant that G4S could not dictate to Parliament how to conduct its business, and said it needed to explain the events around Bester, the report said.
“They thumbed their noses at the committee of Parliament, which they are accountable to. They demand to be summonsed to be here as if they have something to hide. The victims of this person are out there without protection,” the report quoted DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach as saying.
However, G4S claimed it was not issued an invitation to take part in the meeting by the Department of Justice and Correctional Services, Times Live reported.
The company said it had been fully co-operative with various investigations by relevant authorities 3 May 2022 and would continue to do so, the report said.
“G4SCS is bound by statutory obligations in the Correctional Services Act and is, therefore, unable to issue public statements on the events or its co-operation with the subsequent investigations.
“Therefore, G4SCS would welcome the opportunity to engage with the parliamentary portfolio committee on justice and correctional services and has written to the committee requesting that it issues a formal invitation to G4SCS (SA) to appear before the committee to address this matter under parliamentary privilege,” the report quoted the security company as saying.
Magwanishe, however, accused G4S of playing “hide and seek” and using legal processes to buy time, reported Mail & Guardian.
He said the invitation Parliament had sent to G4S last week was official but that the company specifically wanted to be subpoenaed, the report said.
The report said Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula would summons G4S to address the committee meeting “soon”.
Meanwhile, speaking to Newzroom Afrika, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said his department was “very disappointed that we could not proceed [with the meeting on Tusday] because we are ready to take the nation into confidence”.
Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services says a briefing on the Thabo Bester saga cannot continue without the presence of G4S. @Nasiphi_Same speaks to Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola.
— Newzroom Afrika (@Newzroom405) April 4, 2023
Bester and his celebrity doctor girlfriend Nandipha Magudumana have allegedly been living a high life making millions through a construction company.
The Fidelity Service Group has offered a R100 000 reward for information leading to Bester’s arrest.
Compiled by Olwethu Mpeshe