JOHANNESBURG | The private charter flight used to repatriate Thabo Bester and his partner, Dr Nandipha Magudumana, from Tanzania to South Africa cost around R1.4 million.
This is according to Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi.
Government recently came under heavy criticism after it emerged that a luxury aircraft was utilised to bring back the fugitives, who were arrested alongside a Mozambican national in Tanzania, to South Africa last week.
According to reports, a Dassault Falcon 900B ZS-DFJ was chartered from Zenith Air by the National Airways Corporation (NAC) to fly a South African delegation, which included senior government officials, to and back from Tanzania.
Briefing Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs yesterday, Motsoaledi dismissed the suggestion that the aircraft was hired by the South African Police Service (Saps).
The minister explained to the committee that the Department of Home Affairs was basically forced to charter a flight because Tanzanian authorities would only hand Bester and Magudumana over to immigration officials rather than the police.
He said around 14 officials had to travel to Tanzania and return to South Africa, but commercial flights and road travel would have taken some time. Motsoaledi said that the aircraft used was the cheapest option.
Last week, Motsoaledi revealed during a media briefing that Bester did not officially exist, according to Home Affairs’ record collection systems. The department could not locate his details on the National Population Register, national immigration identity system and the visa adjudication system.
Home Affairs officials could only establish that Bester was born on 13 June 1986, at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.