This is the man who was killed to enable Thabo Bester’s escape

The body of the man that was used to make Thabo Bestger’s escape possible has been identified therefore, the devastated father is demanding to know how his son’s remains ended up in the cell in May last year.

For the past year, Batho Mpholo had been looking for his son, who went missing last April.

On Saturday, the 51-year-old from Tembisa, east of Johannesburg, said he received a chilling call saying that the body found in Bester’s cell in the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein on May 3, when Bester faked his death as part of an elaborate plan to escape, was that of his 31-year-old son, Katlego Mpholo.

Bester faked his death by allegedly placing a body (now identified as Katlego Mpholo) in his jail cell and setting it alight.

It was reported that the remains found in Bester’s cell were not his, but belonged to a man who was shorter than Bester who had died as a result of blunt force trauma.

So far, six people had been arrested in relation to Bester’s escape.

Speaking to City Press on Saturday evening, a very traumatised Batho said government had failed his family:

The call has left me numb and my spirit is lost. I never thought I would lose my firstborn in such a gruesome way. He stayed in Bloemfontein with his grandmother, but he was also renting a room in the township. He was the person who loved posting on social media, but in around April he became quiet. I tried calling him, but his number was no longer functioning.

He added: “I drove down to Bloemfontein and his grandmother said she had not seen him for a month and a few days. That was in mid-May. We went to the place where he was renting a room, but he was not there and the neighbours had not seen him for a long time.

That’s when we opened a missing person’s case.”

Batho said it was only about a week ago that Bloemfontein police allegedly called Katlego’s mother saying they would like to conduct a DNA test.

“They never explained what the DNA was for, so after a few days, she got a call from Pretoria saying the test was not correctly conducted. Someone was sent from Pretoria to conduct the test [again] and the results came back positive. Even this time, they did not say much.

It was only on Saturday when they called to say the person who was found in Bester’s cell was my son [that we knew what the DNA test was for],” he said in between sobs.

He said the police told him that his son had overdosed on drugs and collapsed in town. However, he later died in a hospital and was taken to a government mortuary.

He said:

They could not tell me how he ended up in Bester’s cell. There is still no truth in what they are saying. We still have unanswered questions.

He said his son would have turned 32 on May 18 and when he disappeared, he had just lost his job at a restaurant in Bloemfontein.

After being contacted for comment, Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said: “Police can confirm that the charred body found in cell 35 at Mangaung Correctional Centre has been identified following a direct match with the biological mother of the deceased.

The family has been notified by the investigating officer. No further comment will be provided. As difficult as this news is, the SA Police Service is pleased to bring closure to the family.”

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