Police still looking for three escaped inmates
Prisoners use Kutama jail pension dispute to escape
Limpopo police are still searching for three prisoners after a prison break rocked the Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Centre in Makhado.
Police are investigating cases of arson and malicious damage to property after prisoners went on a rampage, burning part of the prison building on Thursday night.
According to police, four other inmates who escaped were rearrested while three are still on the run. The prison, which has capacity of 3 024 beds, is run by a public-private partnership with the Department of Correctional Services.
The prisoners apparently took advantage of a labour dispute between prison management and staff to escape. Most of the escapees were serving time for crimes including murder, rape and armed robbery.
Union for Police and Corrections Organisation secretarygeneral Lawrence Makatu said chaos broke out when workers were locked in a long meeting with management.
Makatu said the meeting was addressing the ongoing disgruntlement over pension funds of about 600 workers.
He said prisoners became impatient when the meeting took too long and they could not get their meals.
Makatu said the meeting took long because management failed to account for discrepancies in pension funds.
Department spokesman Logan Maistry said they could not say what had sparked the prison break until an official report was compiled.
“Working together with the South African Police Service we deployed additional correctional officials to the facility to ensure that the situation is restored to normal as soon as possible,” he said.
Maistry said they would continue to monitor the situation closely while provincial police spokesman, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo, said they had rearrested four of the escapees at the weekend through information provided by the community.
The first escapee, Chris Faku, 37, was arrested while trying to hitchhike near Bandelierkop on Friday night.
Faku was in jail for robbery with aggravating circumstances. Mojapelo said two more escapees were found at a house in Waterval after a member of the community informed police. Jabulani Isaac Mahlangu and Thomas Munyai had been serving time for rape and murder respectively.
The fourth escapee rearrested on Saturday was Tshengendezi Manuka, 37, who was convicted of rape and robbery.
Three prisoners are still on the run. They are Phathutshedzo Nemadodzi, Raphael Nyota and Justice Makamo.