The South African Police Services (SAPS) is on high alert and on the hunt for three convicted prisoners who escaped at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.
The prisoners escaped on Thursday, after being sentenced to four life imprisonments following the murder of a family at Lawley township in Johannesburg, on August 2016.
The escapees were convicted of shooting and killing a woman, her son, her daughter, and a daughter in-law.
“The prisoners escaped while they were being taken into the truck transporting the prisoners between Johannesburg High Court and Johannesburg Correctional Services,” said SAPS spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini.
Dlamini also said an investigation was underway to find out who could have assisted the prisoners to escape. “All the circumstances relating to the escape will be released once an investigation has been concluded. The SAPS Provincial management is conducting a high level investigation to make sure that those who might have assisted the prisoners to escape should face the full might of the law,” he said.
The incident comes a week after 16 prisoners escaped from the Johannesburg Correctional Centre, also known as Sun City prison.
These suspects were reported to have escaped through a pipe shaft in the early hours of the morning. “The suspects broke a window, went through a pipe shaft, and then drilled a hole in the wall to escape,” said Correctional Services spokesperson, Mocheta Monama.
Two of the 16 prisoners were found in KwaZulu-Natal after the Hawks received a tip-off from an anonymous source.
Assisted by the Durban K9 unit, the escapees were found along the R33 between Greytown and Pietermaritzburg. The suspects immediately fired shots, which then resulted in a shoot-out.
According to the Hawks, one escapee was in possession of a 9mm pistol and the other had a toy gun.
Monama said the 14 suspects were still at large and investigations were underway to find out how the prisoners escaped.
“Although the route is visible on how they escaped, we are still investigating what exactly happened,” he said.
Monama said the Department of Correctional Services and SAPS were thoroughly investigating the case.
“One has to establish how the window was broken, what was used to break it, where the object came from, and how the object entered the prison without anyone knowing,” said Monama.
SAPS strongly urged the public to be on the lookout for the escaped convicts and to inform the police with any relevant information that would lead to the re-arrest of the suspects.