Johannesburg, South Africa – Thabo Bester, the seemingly charming young man in his early twenties who would later become known as the Facebook Rapist, was first introduced to South Africans in 2011.
He enticed a slew of young women, raping and robbing them while promising lucrative modeling jobs.
Thabo Bester, a convicted fraudster at the time, had up to 13 aliases at one point.
Among these were Thomas Bester, Tom Bester, and Thabo Tom Bester, Tom Kelly, Thomas Kelly Bester, Thomas Berter, TK, Thomas Magagula, Thabo Magagula, Kelly Johnstone, Rufus Mahopo, and Tom Rufus Reddy.
He targeted young women, some in their late teens and early 20s, promising modelling jobs.
His primary targets were beautiful young ladies with modeling ambitions in Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town.
Nomfundo Tyhulu, a car saleswoman who sold Thabo Bester a BMW in 2011 and afterwards dated the Facebook Rapist, was not so fortunate. She died when he stabbed her to death at a bed and breakfast in Cape Town.
Several Independent Media newsrooms, including the Cape Times, Weekend Argus, Sunday Independent, The Star, Sunday Tribune, and IOL, to mention a few, have covered the tale of the Facebook Rapist throughout the last decade.
Thabo Bester is back in the headlines nearly ten years after his conviction for the heinous crimes he committed, since there are still questions about whether he is genuinely dead, as the Department of Correctional Services stated in May 2022.
Bester was allegedly seen buying at a supermarket in Sandton, only two months after allegedly being burned to death in his jail cell.
The Department of Corrections confirmed on Friday that the inquiry into Bester’s death was still underway.
“On May 3, 2022, DCS issued a brief alert confirming an incident of death in custody, at Mangaung Correctional Centre (MCC), which is one of our public-private partnership (PPP) facilities, following reports of a fire in a single cell allocated to the deceased,” DCS spokeswoman Singabakho Nxumalo said on Friday.
“We further disclosed that his body was discovered by officials employed at MCC at about 03h35.
“A burnt body meant that this case could not be classified as a natural death; hence, an investigation needed to be undertaken in order to determine the cause of death.
“This is standard procedure in all cases of unnatural death in correctional facilities.”
An unnatural death will also necessitate the involvement of the South African Police Service in order to launch an investigation, should foul play or a criminal element be implicated.
“DCS has been inundated with media inquiries about the matter, and we have repeatedly stated that the investigation is ongoing with no new developments.”
“Almost all media inquiries received relied heavily on so-called leaks from unknown sources.” Responding to unsubstantiated or unauthorized claims would be irresponsible on the part of DCS.
“What we’ve seen in the last two days is based on information provided by these unauthorised sources, and the Department is under no obligation to confirm or deny it.”
“Let us reiterate that the investigation on the death of Thabo Bester has not been concluded and the autopsy report has not been tabled before the Department.
“The matter has become a subject of public interest and the Department is pressing on the investigation team to conclude its work so that the findings could be made available.”
In this article, we hope to help the reader understand the heinous crimes committed by dating Facebook Rapist Thabo Bester a decade ago, when he taunted cops, ran elaborate scams, and stole cellphones and photography equipment for months before being apprehended and charged.
Thabo Bester met his victims at well-known and frequently upscale hotels, according to Lieutenant-Colonel Anton Booysen, the KZN head of the psychologically driven crimes section, in October 2011. He said that the presence of CCTV cameras did not seem to deter Bester from his pursuit.
It appears he is not scared. The complexity of his operating system leads us to believe that he is intelligent, although Booysen remarked at the time that the cameras don’t disturb him.
He also used sophisticated email scams to prey on women, telling them that modeling agencies throughout the world are interested in them.
Bester said in the emails—which also contained a secretary’s phone number—that domestic employment was an option for ladies who couldn’t go overseas.
He sent a statement on social media four days before to his arrest in Alberton, Gauteng, claiming he had not injured or murdered any models but admitting he had taken from them.
Under the alias Thabo Magagulu, Thabo Bester completed two of a three-year fraud term in Johannesburg before being granted parole in 2011.
He violated his parole in July, not long after being released, and has been teasing police ever since.
Police suspected Thabo Bester Facebook Rapist of stealing two to three laptops every day in addition to operating other fraud schemes in which he demanded payment from women for auditions, staged elaborate picture sessions, and stole the goods of the crew and models.
Thabo Bester also rented two buses and a photographic crew for a photoshoot with 13 models. He arranged lunch for the models and the crew. As they ate, he fled with the photographic equipment that was left in the buses. Bester also flew to Cape Town with some models using a Joburg charter company shortly after being released from jail in July 2011. Of course, they were never paid because the proof of payment he issued POP was fake.
When he was arrested in 2012, he blamed his life of crime on the death of his grandmother and said he had been raped as a young boy. He also said he had been gang-raped in prison. He claimed not to know his parents.
Some of Thabo Bester’s victims spoke with our journalists the evening he was eventually apprehended, expressing relief and excitement.
One of them added, “I’m so delighted that he’s been located.
Another person said: “I will sleep well tonight knowing I am protected. I must visit him in that cell. I won’t be afraid to testify against him if the police require a witness, so don’t worry. That lunatic deserves to languish in prison.
He said he had been raped by his grandmother’s friend and a guy in Durban while appearing in court for rape and other offenses.
According to a businesswoman, Thabo Bester’s life of crime and deceit began when he was just four years old after his grandfather discovered him carrying a wad of cash.
He claimed that the businesswoman was the source of the funds while lying about its origins.
Thabo Bester attempted to be honest in a 2012 exclusive interview he gave to the Daily Voice from behind bars.
He said in the interview that he became involved in crime because he had three children and needed to provide for them.
In addition, he asserted that he was not a rapist, acknowledged that he had killed, and claimed that Nomfundo had died accidentally.
Thabo Bester was so convincing he managed to fool managers of the ZAR Lounge in Green Point into believing he was an ANC member planning a birthday party for Nelson Mandela.
He also got managers to put him in contact with Cape Town models he took to Johannesburg, where he stole from them and left them stranded.
Also in 2012, he shared that because he was a “high-profile inmate”, he was placed in a single cell and had access to a psychologist three times a week.
In August 2012, in court, he described murdering his girlfriend Nomfundo Tyhulu as a mistake. Bester said Tyhulu was the only one who had stood by him when people accused him of crimes in Durban.
“She was a good friend… I knew her family. She was a good person. She believed in me,” he said in mitigation of sentence.
“I made a mistake and took her life”.
The story of the Facebook Rapist went quiet for over a decade, until he was suddenly burnt to death in a prison cell in May last year.
The Sunday Independent reported that he had been placed in a single cell five days before he set himself alight and was found with a cellphone and laptop in his cell.