Prison escapes down from 1 244 a year to 50 - Correctional Services

2018-04-13 17:08


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Escapes from South African prisons have been significantly reduced over the past two decades, the Department of Correctional Services said on Friday, following a daring breakout in Johannesburg earlier this week.

Spokesperson Logan Maistry said they had recorded 50 escapes from the country’s 243 "correctional facilities" between April 2016 and March 2017.

In 2015/16, the number of escapes stood at 71. Forty-nine escapes were recorded in 2014/15, and 60 in 2013/14.

Maistry compared these statistics to 1995, when 1 244 escapes occurred.

The department had implemented security technology systems at certain institutions, increased security awareness campaigns, and trained officials on how to implement its gang management strategy.

The majority of inmates who had escaped over the years had been re-arrested, said Maistry.

The department's comments come after officials launched a manhunt for 16 prisoners who broke their way out of the Medium A Johannesburg Correctional Centre in the early hours of Monday morning.

Read: 16 inmates break out of 'Sun City'

They escaped through a pipe shaft and used an object to break the wall, before getting past the fence, correctional services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said at the time.

On Tuesday night, two of the men were shot dead in a Hawks operation, after a shootout ensued when officers stopped their vehicle.

A 9mm pistol and a toy gun were found on the men, said KwaZulu-Natal Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo.

Also read: Two 'Sun City' escapees shot dead in KZN

'Altar of greed'

Mhlongo said on Thursday afternoon that the men's identities could not be revealed yet as their families were still in the process of identifying their bodies.

Fourteen men are still on the run.

Maistry said most correctional services officials were hard working and should be commended for their efforts.

"We know that there are a small minority of unscrupulous officials, who themselves are criminals masquerading in DCS uniform, who will sacrifice noble goals, for a safer and secure South Africa, for a 'quick buck' on the altar of greed," he said.

"We want to repeat our warnings to such officials that your days are numbered, and you will not only be investigated, disciplined and dismissed, but will be criminally prosecuted."

In 2015/16, 34 correctional officials were charged and found guilty of corrupt activities. This increased to 37 officials in 2016/17.

Anyone who assisted an inmate in escaping or attempting to escape from a correctional centre or place of custody could be slapped with a fine and/or a jail term of up to 10 years.

The department called on communities to not provide a "sanctuary for fugitives from justice" and, instead, report any suspicious activity to authorities.

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