9 back in prison after blast

2012-10-23 19:09
Johannesburg Prison

Johannesburg Prison

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Three die in prison van blast

2012-10-23 09:15

Police are investigating how an explosive device was smuggled into the back of a prisoner transit vehicle en route to a Johannesburg prison. WATCH

Johannesburg - Nine prisoners were taken back to jail on Tuesday morning after being treated for the injuries they suffered when an explosive device detonated in the vehicle transporting them from court, police said.

"Five of them [the prisoners in the vehicle at the time] are still in hospital and one is [in a] critical [condition]," said Brigadier Neville Malila.

The prison truck was transporting 36 awaiting-trial prisoners from the Randburg Magistrate's Court to Johannesburg Central Prison on Monday.

"When they arrived at the corner of Naturena and the Old Soweto Highway, the driver heard a big bang. He noted there was a hole in the door and saw two prisoners escape," Malila said. Three prisoners were killed in the blast.

The two prisoners who tried to escape were both recaptured. One of them was shot and wounded by the police, said Malila.

"The three died because of that explosive. The shots that police fired wounded one prisoner in the buttocks. No one died as a result of the shooting."

The wounded prisoner was not badly hurt, and was among those who had been taken back to prison.

Inside job

Malila said all the evidence collected would be sent to the ballistic test unit to determine the type of explosive used.

Correctional services commissioner Tom Moyane said it was not ruling out the possibility of it being an inside job.

However, he was satisfied that all security measures were in place when the prisoners were transported to the court.

He said that once the prisoners were in the van, they were the responsibility of the police.

The police also claimed to have had all their security measures in place.

Cases of murder, possession of explosives, and escape from lawful custody were being investigated.

The Congress of the People (Cope) said the explosion was the result of a system error that needed an urgent attention.

"The minister and his senior managers in correctional services must clean their office and ensure that all involved in what appears to be an inside job are brought to book immediately," Cope MP Dennis Bloem said in a statement.

He questioned the procedure of transporting dangerous prisoners from prison to courts.

"It is mind-boggling to think where the tactical response team was when dangerous criminals were transported, and whether the truck was thoroughly inspected before it left the prison premises."

- SAPA
Read more on:    johannesburg  |  prisons
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