Three prison officials linked to the escape of 16 Sun City prisoners suspended


Zodidi Mhlana

Three Johannesburg Correctional services warders linked to the escape of 16 awaiting prisoners have been suspended.

Correctional Services department said that they decided to suspend the two officials while a formal investigation into how escape occurred was underway.

“Because of the ongoing internal investigation, they have been suspended. We’ve decided to suspend them until our investigation into the escape of prisoners has been completed. We will be guided by the investigators on weather more officials will be suspended,” Correctional Service department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said.

Correctional Service department launched an investigation after 16 awaiting trial prisoners escaped from the prison facility nearly two weeks ago.

At the time, Correctional Services department explained that they escaped through a shaft pipe at around 03:00 after using an object to break the wall

The suspension of the three officials comes after two warders appeared at the Johannesburg magistrate court on Friday for allegedly aiding the prison escape.

Two warders who were arrested on Thursday for aiding 16 awaiting trial prisoners to escape from the Johannesburg Correctional Services facility recently are set to appear in court.

Since the escape, Nxumalo said that nine prisoners are yet to be recaptured.

While two inmates were recaptured in KZN, Ntobeko Hlatshawayo and Sabelo Ngubane were shot dead in that province following a shoot-out with the police.

The department said that seven of the escapees had been arrested for murder, three for rape and others for robbery and housebreaking. Nkosiyazi Phungula, 27, Ntobeko Hlatswayo, 32, and Sabelo Ngubane,30, from Zimbabwe were all set to appear on murder charges last week.

Last month, six sentenced inmates escaped from Pollsmoor’ prison in Cape Town after removing bars with a piece of metal.

Meanwhile, trade union, Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) on Monday expressed concern at the arrest and suspension of the prison officials.

“We have also noted the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and Parliament’s Justice Portfolio Committee’s disappointing and short-sighted remarks on this matter of escapes, which has given an impression that they are either ignorant of the realities within Correctional Centres or have chosen to overlook the bigger problems therein by focusing on only condemning the remnant issues,” Popcru said.

The union said that conditions in correctional service facilities had ditoriated.