Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi stated that the cost of the private charter flight used to repatriate Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana from Tanzania to South Africa was approximately R1.4 million.

The government received criticism for using a luxury aircraft to bring back the fugitives, who were arrested in Tanzania along with a Mozambican national.

The National Airways Corporation chartered a Dassault Falcon 900B ZS-DFJ from Zenith Air to transport a South African delegation, including government officials, to and from Tanzania. Motsoaledi explained to the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee that the department was compelled to charter a flight because Tanzanian authorities would only release Bester and Magudumana to immigration officials rather than the police.

The minister clarified that around 14 officials had to travel to Tanzania and back to South Africa, and commercial flights and road travel would have taken too much time.

Motsoaledi claimed that the chartered aircraft was the most economical option. In a media briefing last week, the Home Affairs Minister revealed that Bester was not officially registered in the department’s record collection systems and that his details could not be found in the National Population Register, the national immigration identity system, and the visa adjudication system.

The only information officials could obtain was that Bester was born on 13 June 1986 at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.