Explosive escape: prisoners killed in failed attempt

2012-10-23 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Three prisoners were killed when a police truck was ripped open with explosives in a failed escape bid yesterday afternoon.

The truck, with 36 prisoners in the back, was driving from Randburg Regional Court to the Johannesburg prison when the blast occurred at a highway off-ramp. Four people were seriously injured and another 10 less seriously.

They were admitted to hospital, while the others were back in the cells last night.

Two prisoners leapt out and ran away, but the police shot and injured one of them and both were re-arrested later.

Major General Oswald Reddy said the cause of the blast was not yet known. He said the incident was obviously well planned.

“They must have known the truck would take that off-ramp and that it would be the perfect place to try to escape. They would have known the truck does not stop anywhere.

“We do not know who was responsible.”

He said the truck driver, knowing there were dangerous prisoners on board, drove on to the prison after the blast. He was also injured and had been admitted to hospital.

Reddy said it was the first time that explosives had been used in an escape attempt.

The possibility that the prisoners had inside help could not be ruled out, he said.

He confirmed that the explosives were in the truck, not on a prisoner’s body.

National commissioner of Correctional Services, Tom Moyane, said it was a huge blow to the department, saying: “We are sorry that people were killed in the process. It doesn’t matter how dangerous these people are, our job is to treat them like people during the rehabilitation process.”

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