Escaped Malmesbury inmates 'overpowered guards during exercise'

Six of the 69 prisoners who escaped are still on the run

24 July 2020 - 19:50 By Nonkululeko Njilo
A large group of prisoners escaped from Malmesbury prison on Friday.
A large group of prisoners escaped from Malmesbury prison on Friday.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

Late on Friday evening, prison officials and police were still searching for six inmates who were among 69 prisoners who escaped from the Malmesbury facility during exercise time earlier in the day.

Western Cape regional correctional services commissioner Delekile Klaas said that the prisoners overpowered officials at about 12.15pm. They stole keys and locked the officials up, leaving some of them injured.

At 6.30pm on Saturday, the correctional services department said that 61 of the escapees had been rearrested. About 30 minutes later, the department said that a further three had been taken back into custody

“Six escapees [are still] on the run,” said justice ministry spokesperson Chrispin Phiri.

“I would like to congratulate [correctional services] officials, the SA Police Service and the local armed response for their swift response in ensuring that the majority of escapees were arrested.

“The DCS Emergency Support Team and SAPS are working around the clock to ensure their arrest,” said Klaas.

He said that at the time of the incident, the prison had 451 offenders and 20 officials were on duty.

“The escapees overpowered officials, took the keys and locked three officials in a cell and opened other cells before escaping through the main entrance and over the roof. During the incident, nine officials sustained minor injuries and bruises,” said Klaas.  

The department condemned the incident and said some of the problematic inmates had since been moved to another facility.

“We will make sure that they face the consequences of their actions. The situation currently has been stabilised at the facility, and the EST has been activated to monitor the situation. Furthermore, some of the problematic inmates have been transferred out of the facility to maximum facilities in the region,” said Klaas.

The centre has since gone into full lockdown.

“We want to assure communities that we will do everything in our power to apprehend the remaining escapees, and would not do anything to put communities at risk,” Klaas added.

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