Police have launched a manhunt following the escape of three offenders on Tuesday from the Middledrift prison in the Eastern Cape.
News24 earlier reported that regional correctional services communications officer Nobuntu Gantana said the three prisoners were "dangerous criminals" and the public who see them should rather report them to the nearest police station.
The prisoners who escaped are Sizwe Mhlana who is serving 10 years for robbery, Andisa Vas who is serving 12 years for attempted robbery and Aviwe Nkwalase who is serving 16 years for robbery with aggravated circumstances.
"The circumstances leading to the escape are not yet known. An internal investigation is currently under way. The matter has been reported to [the police]," said Gantana.
A statement issued on Wednesday read: "An investigation is ... under way after the police received reports of a hijacked car, a blue [Opel Kadett] which was later recovered a few kilometres from where the incident took place. However, this particular incident cannot be linked to the suspects at this stage. It is alleged that five people, including two women, were in the hijacked car which was subsequently abandoned in the same area. No injuries were reported."
Task team established
Provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga has ordered the establishment of a task team to investigate and track down the escapees.
"This is the last thing we need during this time. Lawlessness has absolutely no room and will not be tolerated within our communities," Ntshinga said.
Anyone who has information that will lead to the immediate arrest of the suspects is requested to contact the investigation officer, Warrant Officer Matshaya, on 078 456 45 71 or Crime Stop on 08600 10111. The information supplied will be treated with extreme confidentiality.
Last month, News24 reported that two men who had escaped police custody in Humansdorp were successfully rearrested.
Mbongosi Mgoqi, 24, and Jason Witbooi, 22, allegedly bolted from the back of a moving police van which was returning to prison from court.