Escaped prisoners still free

2010-02-24 00:00

KZN police investigators are working around the clock to track down eight hardened criminals who broke out of their seventh-floor cell in Durban Westville prison on Sunday.

The awaiting trial prisoners, together with sugar cane serial murder suspect Thozamile Taki, who seriously injured himself during the escape, broke out of their cell at the pri­son’s Medium A section during a prayer service.

Police reported that the men escaped by sawing through a steel door and grill gates and, using bed sheets that they made into a rope, slid down to freedom.

Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said she is concerned about what she termed “repeated collusion” between correctional officials and prisoners.

The minister said the collusion became evident after a preliminary investigation into the escape.

Departmental spokeswoman Nokuthula Zikhali said yesterday that a high-level investigation team was put together to look into the matter.

“At this stage, the information we have is still the same. Some of the escapees got away in a BMW, which was waiting for them outside the prison premi­ses, while others [escaped on foot].

“Investigations are under way and we still urge community members not to try and get close to these people, but contact the nearest police immediately,” Zikhali said.

Democratic Alliance spokesman on correctional services in the province, Sizwe Mchunu, said it is bad enough that the prisoners have escaped, but it is worse when the minister says there was a collusion between pri­son officials and pri­soners.

“Another concern is that the prison is situated in the middle of the suburbs. The alleged involvement of officials indicates that less consideration [is given to] the community in the area …

“Should the internal investigations confirm the involvement of officials, those officials should be dealt with severely … they don’t deserve to serve in any government institution,” said Mchunu.

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