Notorious escapee Mathe foiled in brazen jail-break attempt from Kokstad’s C-Max prison

2013-10-03 00:00

SA’s notorious criminal and jail-breaker Annanias Mathe was foiled in a brazen jail break attempt from one of SA’s most secure prisons in a bid involving toothpaste, a hammer and a chisel.

The attempted escape from Kokstad’s Ebongweni C-Max prison by Mathe was discovered by guards on Tuesday when they heard him chipping away at the wall during the day. Prison warders had not noticed the 30 cm hole in the wall as Mathe had “plugged and covered” it with Colgate toothpaste and clothing.

An investigation is now under way as to how Mathe was in possession of a hammer and chisel.

Mathe, a Mozambican rapist, murderer and robber linked to 70 cases, is serving a total of 455 years in jail.

Nicknamed the Houdini of C-Max after he previously escaped from prison in 2006 when he covered himself with petroleum jelly and squeezed out of a small window, Mathe was then transferred to Ebhongweni C-Max Prison.

Regarded as the most secure prison in Africa, Ebhongweni C-Max houses other dangerous criminals including the notorious Mvoko gangsters, canefield killer Thozamile Taki, serial killer Tilili Mzimela and Nigerian bomber Henry Okah.

Heavily armed warders rushed to Mathe’s section, where he is detained with other gang members, albeit in separate cells, when they heard the sound of a chisel against the wall.

A reliable source from Department of Correctional Services said it is believed that Mathe attempted to smash the concrete wall of his section using a chisel and hammer.

“It is alleged that one of the warders heard the sound of the chipping of the hammer and chisel during the day and immediately told other warders, who caught Mathe smashing the prison wall.

“He had already made a 30 cm hole in the wall. He told prison warders that he was trying to escape and that he had started long ago, but only chipped away at night. He also said that on Tuesday he decided to continue chipping away during the day,” said the source.

Although no one would talk about the incident for fear of denting the image of the centre, reliable sources told The Witness that Department of Correctional Services investigators have already been sent to the prison to find out how Mathe got the hammer and chisel.

“Prison warders said it was difficult to see the hole in the wall as he had rubbed Colgate toothpaste around it and covered it with clothes,” said the source.

The Witness understands that the cell from where Mathe attempted to escape is on the third floor.

Other reliable sources told The Witness that Mathe’s plan was to break through the wall and run through the sewerage system and so escape.

“I believe he planned well, although he wouldn’t have succeeded because it would be hard for him to inhale the sewage, and also he did not know where the pipe would lead,” said the source.

Red-faced prison authorities gave The Witness the run-around with regards to comment.

Nokuthula Zikhali, the provincial Correctional Services spokesperson, referred the matter to Ebongweni C-Max area commissioner James Patrick Baxter.

Baxter promised to issue a statement about the Mathe escape attempt, but then referred the matter back to Zikhali, whose phone was off at the time of going to print.

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