Durban – Police are still searching for a dangerous criminal who escaped while being transported to Vryheid correctional services on Tuesday.
Five dangerous criminals being transported to the correctional services executed a well-planned escape bid but hours later four of them were back behind bars on Tuesday.
The prisoners escaped while being transported by police from a court in Nongoma to a correctional services facility in Vryheid, in the north of the province. Sources said the police were ambushed along the R618.
According to a source, the police were transporting a total of 11 prisoners, including three charged with ATM bombings. Others were in custody for murder, rape, robbery, and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The Daily News learnt that some prisoners, including the five who escaped, were being transported in a 4X4 double-cab bakkie. Two were in the cab, seated behind the police officers transporting them.
It is thought that the ATM bombers, who are suspected to have been the targets of the escape plot, were in a second vehicle behind the 4X4.
Another vehicle suddenly emerged from the roadside at a quiet spot and blocked the path of the 4X4.
It is unknown what action the police officers took, but it was reported that the prisoners seated behind them pounced, choking and overpowering them.
They took the officers’ guns and fled the scene on foot.
The vehicle used to block the road then drove off, leaving the prisoners in the second police vehicle, including the ATM bombers, still in custody.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant- Colonel Thulani Zwane said that the police officers came under attack as they passed the Ngome policing area. He said the escaped prisoners fired shots with the officers’ stolen guns as they made their getaway, but no injuries were reported.
“A case of escaping from lawful custody and robbery was opened at Ngome police station,” he said.
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Zwane said the escaped prisoners are Mfanele Jabulani Mathe (charged with a house robbery committed this year), Khonangenkosi Ngcobo (charged with a murder committed this year as well as a rape last year), Davis Mkhonyovu Buthelezi (charged with a house robbery committed last year), Mfana Samkelo Sibiya (charged with assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm related to an incident from last year) and Sibonelo Bhandelisha Mabanga (charged with two counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm from incidents last year and in 2016).
By 7pm the police K9 Unit had located and arrested the four awaiting-trial prisoners after combing bushes along the R618 between Nongoma and Vryheid.
The two stolen guns were also recovered.
Correctional Services Department spokesperson Thulani Mdluli said the escapees had not yet been entered into their records as inmates since they were awaiting-trial prisoners still in police custody.
By IOL News.