By ROD AMNER
A second of the seven dangerous inmates who escaped from the Makhanda Correctional Service facility early on Tuesday morning has been re-arrested following an extensive manhunt.
On Wednesday evening around 10 pm, a joint task team between the SAPS and Correctional Service officers re-arrested a second inmate, Simba Masinga, in the bush near Committees Drift, according to Eastern Cape police spokesperson Warrant Officer Majola Nkohli.
Late Tuesday, Bennet Kwarrie was re-arrested in Bloemfontein after his 4 am escape from the prison and is in police custody,
Five of the seven escapees are still at large.
Meanwhile, News24 reported that only one guard patrolled inside the prison on the night of the daring escape from cell seven.
Only five of seven guards were on duty when the convicts escaped, the provincial secretary of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), Xolani Prusente, told News24:
- Seven guards were supposed to be on duty;
- Only five guards reported for work;
- One of two guards was at the outside perimeter gate;
- One was at the main gate of the prison block;
- One was stationed at the door leading to the cells;
- One patrolled outside the walls on the ground;
- One patrolled inside the prison in the cells; and
- There was no guard at the tower post.
News24 reported that the tower post, which gives a guard a 360-degree birds-eye view of the prison ground, was unmanned.
“All shifts at Waainek prison do not have a complete staff complement. There are shortages throughout,” Prusente said.
Had someone been at the tower, the group of men who allegedly fled on foot would not have made it far because the South African Police Service’s K9 Unit and Stock Theft Unit are in the same vicinity as the prison, Prusente added.
“The prison is designed in a way that the wall of the prison serves as a perimeter fence. It’s a disaster.”
Popcru fears that should a prison riot break out at the facility, the inmates could easily crush guards because they are outnumbered, News24 reported.
The men’s prison is designed to house 371 inmates, but it currently has 571 prisoners.
The seven prisoners – including five men recently convicted of rhino poaching – escaped the prison using a hacksaw to cut through the window bars of a cell early Tuesday morning.
Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Majola Nkohli said at about 4 am, an officer arrived for standby duties when she saw lights on in one of the units.
“It was discovered seven prisoners escaped through a window. The circumstances surrounding the incident are forming part of the investigation,” Nkohli said.
Deputy justice and correctional services minister Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa raised questions about the incident, identifying a lapse in security measures which should have prevented the escape, The Sowetan reported.
“If constant patrolling had occurred, this shouldn’t have happened. How these burglars were cut [with a hacksaw]tells us it took a lot of time, and the correctional services did not detect that, which is worrying,” he said.
Among the escapees are five Zimbabwean nationals, Nhamo Muyambo, Francis Chitho, Trymore Chauke, Abraham Moyane and Simba Masinge, all convicted of charges related to rhino poaching on September 30. They were awaiting sentencing.
Two other prisoners – Zimbabwean national Bennet Kwarrile, detained for housebreaking, theft and attempted murder, and South African Luvuyo September, detained for murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and robbery – also escaped.
The public has been cautioned not to approach the men as they are considered dangerous.
Nkohli said Provincial Commissioner Lt-Gen Nomthetheleli Mene had implemented a 72-hour activation plan to trace and apprehend the escapees.
“Police opened a case of escaping from lawful custody for further investigation,” Nkholi said.
“Police are warning the community these prisoners are dangerous and should not be approached. Instead, the police must be contacted. We are also urging communities not to protect these criminals as they will be committing an offence if found to be aiding and abetting them.”
Anyone with information on their whereabouts is urged to contact the investigating officer Det-Capt Glen Peter at 082-301-9427, Crime Stop at 08600-10111, or their nearest police station.