Where were men in blue?

Daily Dispatch - - Opinion -

TO­DAY marks the sixth day since the dan­ger­ous pair – Lulekani Somt­sora and Tha­bani Mkhokeli – es­caped from the Mdantsane Re­gional Court hold­ing cells.

The two men who al­legedly ter­rorised busi­nesses and res­i­dents in a spate of armed rob­beries and mur­der in Mdantsane, broke out shortly af­ter con­sult­ing with their lawyer.

The po­lice say that they have launched a man­hunt and promised to con­duct an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion to as­cer­tain whether there was any neg­li­gence on the part of the of­fi­cers who were meant to keep an eye on the pair.

So far, no other in­for­ma­tion has been forth­com­ing as Mkhokeli and Somt­sora are still on the run.

It seems the po­lice want to lay the blame on the sus­pected crim­i­nals’ lawyer, ar­gu­ing that he had failed to no­tify them when he fin­ished con­sult­ing with his clients.

Granted, the lawyer should have no­ti­fied them as per pro­ce­dure.

But that is be­sides the point. The po­lice should have been alert at all times and been on guard out­side the con­sult­ing room.

Had the po­lice been posted out­side the con­sult­ing room, surely they would have seen any­one who left the room – whether the lawyer no­ti­fied them or not.

There are too many unan­swered ques­tions about the es­cape. How is it pos­si­ble for dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals to freely walk out of the court premises with­out be­ing de­tected? It is ev­i­dent that the po­lice were sleep­ing on the job.

This es­cape has se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions for the pros­e­cu­tion and the en­tire case.

The life of the state wit­ness and those of other res­i­dents are in dan­ger as the two al­leged crim­i­nals could be any­where.

The es­cape came af­ter the po­lice foiled an at­tempted es­cape at the Mthatha High Court where await­ing-trial pris­oner Luthando Mn­dayi was gunned down as he charged at the po­lice with a knife. He had ear­lier wounded a war­rant of­fi­cer as he tried to break free.

Last month, Ali­wal North De­tec­tive Con­sta­ble Romeo Sarin Oer­son es­caped from the East Lon­don Mag­is­trate’s Court hold­ing cells with the help of court or­der­lies.

Oer­son, who is fac­ing at­tempted mur­der charges af­ter he al­legedly shot and wounded his girl­friend in June, was re-ar­rested within 24 hours af­ter his es­cape.

The spate of re­cent es­capes show that crim­i­nals have lit­tle re­gard for the po­lice. This does not bode well for the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. Of­fi­cials found to have been neg­li­gent or who as­sisted the crim­i­nal sus­pects, should face hefty penal­ties.

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